Local food and beverage products as important tourist souvenirs


By Karolina Buczkowska, AWF Poznań | Turystyka Kulturowa, www.turystykakulturowa.org

Tourist souvenirs are an indispensable element of traveling for most people, especially cultural tourists. Experiencing food and beverages of the country, region or area is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience: “Dining out is common among tourists and food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery in importance to tourists. Tourists and visitors increasingly see in gastronomy the possibility of learning more about the culture of a place. And it does not matter what kind of tourism they do – all tourists love eating and all of them must do it while travelling. “Food has an undeniable importance for holiday makers. As such, food tourism has gained an enormous potential in recent years. A high percentage of travellers, consider dining and food as relevant activities during their travels”. For some tourists getting knowledge and experience about other culture’s food becomes one of the trip motives and it is much more than just eating. For them the above-mentioned learning represents itself in tasting local and regional dishes, visiting various gastronomic facilities, meeting chefs and sightseeing places where food and beverages are produced. Moreover, an important element of the trip for them is also bringing home the local food and beverage products, kitchen utensils, photos or recipes as tourist souvenirs. Those tourists visiting different places usually want to buy or get something ‘characteristic’ or ‘typical’, and it is pretty obvious that culinary souvenirs are their frequent choices.

“A souvenir, no less than a photo, completes the trip, it is a kind of a trophy, a justification of being ‘there’. It encompasses the whole trip which begins with planning and packing of bags. Unpacking and placing the brought souvenirs on ‘the mantelpiece’ closes up the experience, proving in a tangible way that the trip has taken place, and even though the memories of the trip may fade away, the dust- covered souvenirs will keep the memory of the past.”

Tourist souvenirs are an indispensable element of traveling for most people, especially cultural tourists. Every souvenir means something different, and even the same things may be treated differently by various people – even food products or beverages. However, they play a quite important role in the process of traveling.

A tourist souvenir is “a thing having particular meanings created by its producer, and numerously interpreted throughout its ‘biography’. These meanings must be easily recognizable and easily associated with the destination. The item must ‘express’ a particular genius loci to be so unique that after years it will still be associated without a doubt with particular time (trip) and space (the visited place)” – undoubtedly culinary souvenirs do have such a meaning. As written in a tourist’s story in “The Daily Meal”: “The only bottle of wine that ever lasted for longer than a few weeks in my house was a bottle I brought back with me from a friend’s wedding in South Africa – its contents, and of course the memories that went with it, just seemed too special to drink on any Wednesday night alongside takeout. But when I did finally open it, all of the fantastic flavors and feelings from my trip came rushing back. I almost felt like the bottle of wine satiated my need to go back and do the trip all over again. That’s what food souvenirs do so much better than, say, key chains and T-shirts – they bring back all the sights, sounds, and flavors from time spent in another land”.

Creating and promoting the right tourist souvenirs – also based on local food and beverage – is therefore essential. Moreover, it is of great importance for the development of tourist activity in particular destinations as well as for the incoming tourists.