Culinary tourism has been on the rise over recent years due to several factors including increasing public interest in food and the high density of food photography on social media platforms. The Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance published a report where they state, “culinary tourists share millions of food and beverage themed photos daily across social platforms” and that “this increases travel consumers awareness of different cuisines and cultures and it fuels their desire to experience them.” (Parmar 2015). The consumption of authentic local food when travelling is a form of first-hand cultural experience (Hasselbeck 2017) and has grown to become one of the core reasons as to why people visit certain countries. For countries with economies that rely heavily on the tourism industry this may lead to issues regarding the exploitation of their cuisine and loss of tradition. Indonesia is a country well-known for their diverse array of regional cuisine and is one of the governments taking action to accommodate the large influx of tourists visiting the country.
Gudeg Jogja from Yogyakarta Soto Betawi from Jakarta
(Photo: Traveller Tourism 2016) (Photo: Weins 2015)
Map of Indonesia indicating popular regional foods
The tourism ministry of Indonesia has announced plans to turn Bali, an already popular tourist hotspot, into a food destination, where they will input more focus into their restaurants, holding food-tasting events and set up markets for travellers to taste food from all around the country. They have stated that their goal is to boost the number of tourists visiting Indonesia from 12 million in 2016 to 20 million by 2019 (Butler 2016). While it provides the convenience of tasting different regional dishes in one area, the process lacks the authenticity of consuming the food in its respective environment and immersing yourself in the culture.
There are other negative effects of mass tourism on Indonesian culture and traditional cuisine with one being the obstruction of visitors from an honest understanding as tourism “produces a form of mass seduction that alienates and disempowers consumers” (Gotham 2010). While tourists claim they would like to experience the authentic cuisine of different cultures, a study shows that they still look for a familiarity in the taste and ingredients (Wijaya et al. 2016). This is reinforced by the statement that a willingness to try new foods and explore different cultures, referred to as neophobia, is hindered by the natural scepticism in tasting something foreign, referred to as neophilia (Sengel et al. 2015). This can lead to a modification in traditional recipes to cater for foreigners to leave a positive impression of the country on them and promote visitation, inevitably resulting in a loss of culture.
Overall, whilst the tourism sector contributes greatly to the Indonesian economy with one of the country’s main appeals being their unique and diverse cuisine, it is important to note that the commoditisation of its local products brings consequences destructive to its culture.
Hasselbeck, A. 2017, The Rise of Food Tourism: How food tourism can boost the hospitality & tourism industry, Millionmetrics, viewed 7 December 2017, <https://www.millionmetrics.com/food-tourism/>
Butler, A. 2016, Indonesia hopes to promote Bali as a gastronomic tourism destination, Lonely Planet, viewed 7 December 2017, <https://www.lonelyplanet.com/news/2016/09/27/indonesia-bali-gastronomic-tourism/>
Parmar, P. 2015, How Culinary Tourism Is Becoming a Growing Trend in Travel, Huffington Post, viewed 7 December 2017, <http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/parmjit-parmar/the-rise-of-culinary-tourism_b_7596704.html>
Wijaya, S., Morrison, A., Nguyen, T., King, B. 2016, ‘Exploration of Culinary Tourism in Indonesia: What Do the International Visitors Expect?’, Asia Tourism Forum, pp. 375-379.
Sengel, T., Karagoz, A., Cetin, G., Dincer, F., Ertugral, S., Balik, M. 2015, ‘Tourists’ Approach to Local Food’, World Conference on Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, pp. 429-437.
Gotham, K. 2010, Handbook of Cultural Sociology, Routledge, New York.
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Weins, M. 2015, Soto Betawi: An Indonesian Dish You Have to Eat in Jakarta, Migrationology, viewed 7 December 2017, <https://migrationology.com/soto-betawi-haji-husein/>