Developing Culinary Tourism in Trinidad & Tobago

Culinary tourism covers any tourism experience that encourages learning, appreciating, and/or consuming food and drink that reflects the local, regional and international cuisine, culture, tradition and culinary techniques; and it is a linkage to agro-tourism, rural and urban tourism and other areas of tourism.  It can also be viewed as a tourist culinary adventure, which encourages the individuals groups, organizations and even companies to explore new foods and drinks on their visits to the different countries around the world, as well as to the many culinary events, food fairs, festivals, cooking competitions and shows, trade shows and expos, and all other avenues and events as it relates to food.
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Trinidad and Tobago, is no different. We are the home to many different races and cultures; and so too are our cuisines, which is rich in tradition, history, heritage and nothing brings people (family, friends, co-workers and even foes) closer together than good food and drinks and great company, for it literally sustains life.
We are a great twin island that is rich in almost everything and what one would call a food lover’s paradise, chock-full of delicious food, culinary gems in surprising places and we also have a rich agricultural history that yields beloved edible treats, and progressively moving forward towards revitalizing the agriculture industry.
Unlike Trinidad, Tobago is more laid-back and have an array of indigenous culinary delights have been passed down from one generation to the another generation, and is more leaning to eating more local food, as Tobagonians love their belly and they love to cook and even entertain family, friends and even visitors; so exploring the culinary traditions of the island is a must do, on the list of every domestic, regional and international visitor to the island, through the following:
– Local restaurants, cafes and other eateries – that offers unique and memorable experiences, such as capitalizing on the idea of identifying a local or regional specialty and creating their own version of it.  Even host Chef demonstrations or in-the-kitchen training, which are two ways of creating an unforgettable dining experience for guests by showcasing a famous chef or locally grown or manufactured ingredients. A great way for restaurants to build loyalty with locals and have greater chances of them directing tourists to their favorite eatery is by enlisting locals to become culinary tourism ambassadors. Instead of looking at other restaurants as competitions, one should help the other; by aligning with other restaurants in the area for culinary events that will benefit that community entire dining experience, for which a group of restaurants can make a greater impact than just one individual restaurant. The Trinidad and Tobago Restaurant Week, which is held in September of each year and last for ten (10) days; which have yet to make a huge splash in Tobago; but Tobago can host its own Tobago Restaurant Week.
– Nature of Local or Regional Cuisine – The ultimate desire to experience local and regional cuisine is a major reason for participating in culinary travels. Many culinary travelers always enjoy learning about local cultures and cuisines of different travel destinations; as well as they want their travel to be an experience or experimental so they make a great effort to seek out local and regional cuisines, culinary specialties, local wines/spirits and much more. Another way is to showcase local and regional cuisine is through the publication of cookbooks with favorite restaurant recipe and specialties indigenous to the destination.
– Local Farmers Market, which in this case may not apply to Tobago, as the island, has yet to construct a New State-of-the-Art Farmer’s Market, unlike Trinidad which is a buzz with local farmer’s market in each community across Trinidad. As well as have more chefs and local farmers working together to satisfy consumers’ appetite for fresh, home-grown foods.
– Traditional Artisan Products and Locally-Made Wines/Beers – Most culinary travelers like to take back home apart from the experience are regional foods, recipes, wines, homemade pepper sauce, cheese, wines from the places which they have visited and share them with family, friends, neighbors and even co-workers.
– Culinary Festivals – Festivals are cultural phenomenon throughout the world.  Another way to tap into the potential of culinary tourism is to create a culinary festival.  Such events can held at community level or on a grand scale, such as World Food Day, Annual Tobago Blue Food Festival, Tobago Heritage Festival, National Fruit Festival (Trinidad), International Chocolate Day (Trinidad), World Cocoa and Chocolate Day (Trinidad), Tobago Culinary Festival, Annual Mango Festival, hosted by The Network of Rural Women Producers of Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT), Tobago Fisherman Festivals (held yearly in Charlotteville, Speyside, Lambeau, Plymouth and Castara); Tobago Community and Village Harvest Festivals (which is celebrated in each and every village on the island of Tobago) and others culinary festivals and events.
– Food fairs/trade shows and expos, all related and catered to food and allowing food entrepreneurs to showcase and highlight their final product whether it be homemade pepper sauce, homemade ice cream, cheese, cakes, homemade soaps using herbs, spa treatments, skin cream and much more.
– Added also is the rise of local food blogs and websites by food lovers (food writers, food bloggers and food photographers) who have turned their love for writing and food and create websites and blogs at showcasing and highlighting our countries culinary adventures, such as: Trinichow (www.trinichow.com), Trinicook (www.trinicook.com), Trinigourmet (www.trinigourmet.com), Simply Trini Cooking (www.simplytrinicooking.com), EatahfoodTT (www.eatahfoodtt.com), Foodie Nation TT (www.foodienationtt.com), including my own food blog at Just Write Peach (www.justwritepeach.wordpress.com) and other food blogs and websites.
The future of culinary tourism in Trinidad and Tobago looks bright; but there are lots more work to be done, such as Research and Development, Culinary Tourism SWOT Analysis of Trinidad and Trinidad needs major improvements, for there are more more weakness and threats than there are strengths and opportunities; that needs to be addressed and overcome; and that is by getting all the minor and major stakeholders and personnel involved in the agriculture industry, as well as the food and beverage industry and even the general public to come together and get more involved in moving culinary tourism forward, as well as the introduction of destination marketing organizations and companies to come on board by embarking on a local, regional and international marketing campaign via multimedia (print, television, radio and the worldwide media) in promoting Trinidad and Tobago as the ideal culinary tourism destination.
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