Gastronomic tourism is on the rise in the UK as more travellers seek out authentic dining experiences, including eating in locals’ homes, a new report from credit card provider MBNA suggests.

A significant 86% of the 2,000 people surveyed as part of the company's food tourism research said food plays an important role in their holiday experience, with 40% seeking authenticity above anything else when it comes to foreign cuisine.

The data reveals that travellers want to go beyond just eating at restaurants while they are abroad, opting for a more immersive experience; one in five (21%) say they have visited locals’ homes to dine with them, while 49% have visited a food festival or market, and 20% have visited a farm or orchard.

Being able to eat locally-sourced food was also an important consideration for one in five (21%) travellers, while only 14% were most attracted to an inexpensive dining experience. Exploration is key when it comes to food tourism, the survey suggests, with 68% of respondents saying they find new places to eat by wandering around their location, rather than looking at reviews or internet recommendations.

The research revealed a difference in what certain age groups want from their cuisine when abroad, with more than a third (35%) of 18-24 year olds stating that ensuring that the food they order is ‘instagrammable’ is a top consideration when dining. The younger generation prefer unique dining experiences, with 10% having attended cooking workshops while on holiday, and 53% tucking into street food. This generation was also the most likely to get their inspiration from social media, with 26% having researched where to eat using this method.

For those aged 55 and over, the search for authenticity in their gastronomic travels is about embedding themselves in the culture. A quarter (25%) of this age demographic have eaten at locals’ homes, while 59% have visited a food festival or market. They were the most likely to obtain dining recommendations from locals (40%) and 73% enjoy exploring the location for new tastes.

MBNA analysed its own data, looking at credit card transactions in eateries around the globe to discover where the up and coming culinary destinations could be. Between 2014 and 2016, India saw a 91% increase in average monthly restaurant and fast-food transactions while Japan’s similar transactions increased by 58%. The United Arab Emirates also saw a substantial increase with 45%, as did Greece with 44%.

More information about the study can be found at mbna.co.uk/blog/food-tourism

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