An exploration of food tourism and destination experience along the Wild Atlantic Way
O’ Donovan, Ivor.
Lally, Ann Marie.
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Food is an essential part of Ireland’s tourist experience and is a major draw for inbound tourists; food is sustenance, however it can also appeal to visitors looking for authentic experiences. Food experiences can help to create, enhance or reinforce a sense of place; for some it is a primary motivator for selection of destination; for others it is considered peripheral to experience but a necessary part of travel. Food can also provide social opportunities for visitors to engage with local people, to experience and exchange information about food and the destination (Hede, 2008). This paper seeks to establish a position from which primary research can be conducted into how tourists experience the Wild Atlantic Way through food. The aim of the research is to identify the variables that are required to evaluate to role of food as an element of the overall destination experience and to explore methodologies that would allow researchers effectively capture visitors’ perceptions of food experiences along the Wild Atlantic Way. The Wild Atlantic Way provides a great variety of opportunities for tourists to consume Irish food as a part of their overall destination experience. The route is created and designed to blend experience with landscape; and whilst tourists are unified by a set of common requirements, it appears that Wild Atlantic Way attracts a diverse range of visitors, using various modes of travel, in search of many different kinds of destination experience. A review of literature and insights from sectoral experts is to be undertaken so as to establish the elements are most critical to the authentic food experiences so as to build a framework that will enable the researchers clarify a methodology to audit of the behaviours, attitudes and food experiences of tourists along the route. It is proposed that this paper will allow for the presentation of a conceptual framework of the elements of authentic food experiences and propose an evaluation methodology to evaluate tourist food experiences. It is anticipated that the framework and ensuing operationalisation of the research will give rise to practical recommendations for food tourism stakeholders that will inform best practice along the Wild Atlantic Way thereby adding value for consumers, tourism stakeholders and destinations.
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