The Iles de la Madeleine Recreationnal Tourism Cluster and Bon goût frais des Îles (Good Food Îles de la Madeleine) were participants in the 2013 World Food Travel Summit held September 21 to 25 in Göteborg, Sweden. The event is tailored for professionals involved in the development and the promotion of culinary tourism. There were more than 200 participants from 28 countries.
In recent years, the Swedish government has been implementing a policy entitled Sweden the New Culinary Nation which is designed to enhance the reputation of the country as a culinary destination. Sweden was thus a logical choice for the fourth edition of this event organised by the World Food Travel Association. The Swedish policy's action plan was the subject of a presentation at the event. Several elements of this plan could serve as inspiration for the implementation of the food sovereignty policy for Québec.
For the participants from Les Îles, the theme of the event, New Wave in Food Tourism, provided a wealth of information concerning the new trends in culinary tourism and best practices for this sector of activity. A well-balanced program that included industrial visits, business meetings and lectures provided a host of ideas and concepts that could be relevant to the sector on Îles de la Madeleine.
For example, the good reputation of the fairly remote region of Jämtland, in the central part of Sweden, has been built on the quality of its environment and the creativity of its inhabitants. Its culinary tradition highlights nature and sustainable development. The city of Östersund has implemented several participative projects, including a Locals Only day when locals play the role of tourists to become better acquainted with what the region has to offer and to become true ambassadors. The city is now included in UNESCO's creative cities network.
In Norway, cooperation between businesses, municipal authorities and various government departments (tourism, transportation, rural development, agriculture and food), has led to the implementation of a pilot project called Taste of National Tourist Routes. This initiative highlights the gastronomic experience offered along five panoramic routes across the country. Project manager Egil Ørjan Thorsen says that some farmers have found the help needed to bring back into production tracts of farmland that had become fallow. In the Askrafjord region, the number of visitors has shot up from 400 to 16,000, following the establishment of a network of some 80 businesses and the use of communications tools that emphasize, in particular, the roles of producers and restaurateurs.
Furthermore, telling stories — food stories — about the people in the food industries and agritourism of a given region is a reliable way of ensuring success. In a competitive environment, several lecturers mentioned that content marketing is essential to establish a clear identity for destinations and to foster better communication with the targeted tourists via social media.
According to a study presented by Mandala Research, for 30 % of tourists, the quality and authenticity of culinary experiences are key elements of their choice of a destination. The most recent data compiled from the Visitor Exit Survey by the Regional Tourism Association also reflect this tendency. The gastronomic experience offered by Les Iles was deemed attractive by 40 % of departing visitors. This clearly illustrates the importance of this component in the planning of a sojourn. The Îles de la Madeleine archipelago has many strong points for a solid positioning in that respect: an exceptional environment, varied and distinctive flavours and imaginative entrepreneurs who are firmly committed to sustainable development.
To share the information gathered at the event, a special presentation for businesses will be scheduled this fall, on the archipelago, as part of a networking activity. In addition, in cooperation with the Réseau de veille en tourisme — the Quebec source for information on global trends in international tourism — a report on the event will be prepared at the regional level and made available on the Web in the next few weeks.
The participation of the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Recreational Tourism Cluster in the World Food Travel Summit is in synch with some of the objectives of its five-year (2012-2017) action plan. It is particularly relevant to two objectives: providing strategic information to the businesses so that they may adjust offerings to world tourism trends and enhancing the capacity of businesses to satisfy the demands of an international market. The participation of the Tourism Cluster and Bon goût frais des Îles (Good Food Îles de la Madeleine) in this event organised by the World Food Travel Association was made possible, in particular, by the support of GÎMXPORT.
Follow this link to find out more about the World Food Travel Summit
Recreational Tourism Cluster Manager
418 986 2245, ext. 228
Le Bon goût frais des Îles de la Madeleine
418 986-6650, ext. 221