Seeing the potential of Filipino cuisines boosting the country’s tourism industry, the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday vowed to continue its food tourism efforts, particularly the pilot project Chefs’ Food Trip to the Philippines, where prominent international chefs will be invited to promote local food abroad.
“The DOT believes greatly in the potential of Filipino food that we have identified culinary tourism, under the cultural tourism umbrella, as a key tourism product in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2016-2022,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat during the DOT x WOFEX University Fun Food Talks in Taguig City.
The event is a partnership between the DOT and the World Food Expo Philippines (WOFEX) which featured Filipino-American Chefs Tom Cunanan, owner of Bad Saint restaurant in Washington, D.C., Lanai Tabura who won the Great Food Truck Race, and Charles Olalia of Ricebar in Los Angeles.
According to Romulo-Puyat, food has been impacting tourism industries all over the world as culinary or gastronomic tourism is emerging globally at a fast pace.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported that food is “a central part of the tourism experience” and makes up one-third of a tourist’s expenses.
“More and more people are turning to food as their key motivation to travel to a destination. Somewhere around the world, there’s someone scrolling on their phone, on the lookout for the next destination they could visit that has the best food they should try, or perhaps a festival, farmers’ market, or culinary tour they can attend, and that will rouse their inner travel bug,” she said.
Through DOT’s Chefs’ Food Trip project, Romulo-Puyat hopes to create an army of “food tourism ambassadors” and inspire more chefs like Cunanan, Tabura, and Olalia to bear the Philippine flag through their creations abroad.
“As a country brimming with heirloom recipes, food-centric festivals, and culture, and olden cooking practices, let me tell you that the Philippines is not behind in this feat,” she said.
The WOFEX University Fun Food Talks in Taguig City is a component of the said project where the chefs shared their stories, skills, and acquired learnings from the tour.
“I am optimistic that at the end of this activity, we can gain a new Philippine food tourism advocate in each of you, celebrating with us why ‘Eats More Fun in the Philippines,'” Romulo-Puyat said.
Since November 10, the chefs have been touring around Manila, Pampanga, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Davao and immersing themselves with the country’s rich culinary scene.
At each leg of the tour, the chefs also met seasoned Filipino chefs and learned new dishes and cooking traditions practiced in the Philippines.