Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2014 Contents Several stakeholders within the
local and international tourism
industry say that tourism is
an experience. How do we
achieve this experience?
Among several factors, food
has become a key component in making a
tourist visit a memorable one.
According to World Tourism Organisation
(UNWTO), the cuisine of the destination is
an aspect of utmost importance in the quality
of the holiday experience. Culinary tourism
is becoming a growing phenomenon global-
ly. What is culinary tourism?
According to Ontario Culinary Tourism
Association referenced in a 2012 research doc-
ument entitled Agro and Culinary Tourism-
Getting to the Next Level by Ena Harvey, man-
agement co-ordinator-Caribbean and agro
tourism specialist, defines it by saying that
culinary tourism includes any tourism expe-
rience in which one learns about, appreciates,
and/or consumes food and drink that reflects
the local, regional or national cuisine, heritage,
culture, tradition or culinary techniques.
As such the document states that 60 per
cent of American leisure travellers indicate
that they are interested in taking a trip to
engage in culinary activities. It says travel
enthusiasts are even willing to pay big bucks
for insider tips, immersive cooking classes,
wine and agricultural experiences, as well as
authentic cultural exchanges.
UNWTO says in the tourism world there
are influential destinations whose brand image
is connected, with varying levels of intensity
to gastronomic values. Some of these countries
are Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, United States,
South Africa and Japan. Could T&T use its
unique local cuisine to brand its destination
or make a tourist attraction of food? The
answer is yes! The table is set!
As a matter of fact one just has to stroll
along any major causeway in our urban and
rural areas to be exposed to a wide variety of
food that indicates the multifaceted nature of
"Trini" life. Any Trinbagonian can take a tourist
to Arima, one of the main towns, where several
people converge to for "liming"." Close to and
around the Dial vendors are seen selling dou-
bles, bake and shark and local tasty burgers.
There are local chicken and chips restaurants
flavoured with the "Trini" blend of seasoning
and spices that are very competitive with sim-
ilar type international restaurants. Further
down that stretch, corn soup and punches.
made with local fruits like barbadine and sour-
sop are available.
Driving further East to the fringes of Valencia
is the finger lickin' bar-b-que pigtail. Leaving
East and heading South, one can enjoy at the
Debe junction an array of delicacies that are
a legacy of East Indian indentureship.
Heading in a westerly direction into the
main capital of Trinidad, Port-of-Spain, just
around by the Queen's Park Savannah on the
eastern side, you will be treated to most of
the "Trini" flavours and a touch of the
Caribbean dishes. Other vendors seek to whet
the palates of those who may be craving for
the Jamaican jerk. This has become a hot spot
where friends and family converge in the
evening to night to just sit, eat and chat with
a little music in the background.
St James, once called the city that never
sleeps, has a similar structure, but a longer
stretch with bars and clubs where old and
young congregate just at the mouth of the
bars, on the pavements and along the roadway
socialising, eating and listening to music. The
"Trini liming" culture has taken on this new
look and food has played a major conduit in
socialising and entertainment.
As such there is a new emergence of dining
and eating out, which has gone beyond just
a "Trini" local cuisine, but a reflection of
T&T's cosmopolitan culture. Actually, one
may travel around the world simply by tra-
versing the length of Ariapita Avenue, Wood-
brook, for the sheer variety of food available.
History bears out the many different paths
that has led our forefathers to these lands and
their influence is still seen everywhere from
district and street names to the racial mixtures
and the abundance of tasty dishes.
It is this wide variety of food that throws
a delicious twist to the term "melting pot" as
it pertains to T&T's unique blend of foods.
There is enough quality to satisfy the palate
of the most discriminating taste buds belonging
to both local and foreigner alike.
The explosion of Ariapita Avenue as a focal
point in the cultural landscape is nothing short
of staggering. Now known simply as The
Avenue', home and foreign based locals, as
well as visitors alike are awestruck by the rapid
development that has occurred there as the
liming crowd has migrated from all over the
bustling city to cram themselves into the bars,
diners and dance spots that seem to litter that
stretch of the city.
In between the many eateries or dining
clubs and bars, patrons stand on the pavement
or lean on their cars parked at the side of the
road with a bottle in hand dancing, chatting
But can this same melting pot culture of
food, which can be replicated in other coun-
tries, threaten the idea of what is unique to
a country's food tourism?
Well, Greg Rawlins, IICA Representative in
T&T and co-ordinator, regional integration,
Caribbean region, believes that once the drag
at the Queen's Park Savannah, which is more
geared to local offerings, is replicated, promoted
and marketed well in other parts of the country,
food tourism can be sustained in T&T. He
says once the country's local unique food is
showcased and marketed more than the new
age cosmopolitan dining out experience, there
are great opportunities for food tourism.
As Ena Harvey outlined, there are spin offs
to food tourism; it includes a tourist visiting
farm markets and stands, tours of artisanal
farms, wineries and dairies. She says when
done properly, culinary tourism tells the story
of the heritage, the people and the landscape
of a geographic area.
It reflects "place," enriches experiences, and
can be a valuable tool to boost economic, social
and community development.
"The Caribbean has all of the ingredients
for success. We now need to package the offer;
link the marketing to the products and by
working toward better coordination at the
regional level and designing incentives locally,
each Caribbean country could offer something
(The T&T Chamber thanks Dixie-Ann Dick-
son for her contribution of this article).
MAY 2014 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG17
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
T&T: A foodie's paradise
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