The authenticity of a tourism destination relies on multifaceted elements including the landscape, historical magnetism of the area, socio-economic, environmental and cultural or spiritual experiences on offer. Tourists are motivated by their independent travel styles, attitudes and behaviour (Hjalager 2004). The pursuit of novelty and strangeness motivates the tourist, yet they desire the reassurance of familiar culinary comfort to guarantee their enjoyment. (Cohen, E & Avieli, N 2004).
Gastronomic Tourism in Byron Bay
“The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they nourish themselves”
Jean Brillat-Savarin (Hall & Mitchell 2000. Cited in Fishwick, 1995, p 13).
Northern Rivers Tourism‘s mission is to develop and promote authentic and diverse tourism experiences for a sustainable future for the region (Byron Bay and Beyond 2013). However, the authentic gastro-tourist destinations in the area are being diluted due to a rapid increase in the multinational corporate fashion brands descending on the town of Byron Bay.
While mega food chains McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks are persona non grata, there is a steady rise of independent gourmet fast food eateries. For example, burger “joint” Beloporto reviewed on TripAdvisor (Trip Advisor 2013) as offering “the world’s best chicken burger” attracts a dedicated tribe of hungry global backpackers to the town.
Competitive fast food outlets such as the numerous kebab shops and pizza bars piggyback on the individual authenticity of celebrated establishments, yet offer poor food quality or service as a result of being exploited commercially through branding and other forms of adding value (Beer 2008). To the famished, shallow pocketed surfer the lure of a world’s best burger is indeed a subjectively driven example of an authentic motivator.
On the contrary, authentic destination restaurant emporiums such as the Harvest Cafe in the town of Newry Bar showcase a menu celebrating local produce. Renowned for the country charm and sophistication that would rival big city competition, Harvest boasts a comprehensive organic vegetable garden, bakery, separate delicatessen and function rooms providing the dedicated gastronomic tourist a wide array of choices in a quirky, quaint and picturesque town.
Here tourism strives to seek an identity and a desire for economic positioning in contemporary globalization (Hall & Mitchell 2000). This is demonstrated throughout the spectacular landscape, oceanic panorama and diverse culinary opportunities to be experienced in this region that is abundant with local produce to work with and a devoted food culture.
The fricassee of food providers consist of a diverse range including sea changers who have abandoned the urban throng for the ocean swell, bringing their city palate and customer service standards. This combined with families who have farmed the land for generations, food consumption is not only a means of generating revenues for a destination, but also an important part of the tourist experience (Quan, S & Wang, N 2004 p. 299).
The greatest threat to authentic gastronomic tourism in Byron Bay lies within the new NSW Planning Laws. These will allow global fast food chains to move into an existing food establishment as a Complying Development.
Therefore permeating the authentic, rich flavour of domestic culinary tourism will need to take an even greater stronghold against the banal suburban chain restaurant (Albrecht 2011).
Albrecht, M. M 2011, ‘‘When you’re here, you’re family’: Culinary tourism and the Olive Garden Restaurant’, Tourist Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 99-113.
Beer, S 2008, ‘Authenticity and food experience – commercial and academic perspectives’, Journal of Foodservice, vol.19, pp. 153-163.
Author unknown. Byron Bay and Beyond. 2011. Home. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.byronbayandbeyond.com/aboutus/. [Accessed 15 June 13].
Cohen, E & Avieli, N 2004, ‘Food in tourism: attraction and impediment’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 755-778.
Grier T, Picone K, (2011) Harvest Cafe, http://harvestcafe.com.au/, [Accessed 16 June 13].
Hall, CM & Mitchell, R 2000, ‘”We are what we eat”: Food, tourism, and globalization’, Tourism, Culture & Communication, vol. 2, pp. 29-37.
Hjologer, A-M. 2004. “What do tourists eat and why? Towards a sociology of gastronomy and tourism.” Tourism (13327461) 52, no. 2: 195-201. Hospitality & Tourism Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed June 15, 2013).
Moscardo, G 2000, ‘Cultural and heritage tourism: the great debates’, in B Faulkner, GMoscardo & E Lewis (eds), Tourism in the twenty-first century: reflections on experience, Continuum, London, pp. 3-17.
Quan, S & Wang, N 2004, ‘Towards a structural model of the tourist experience: an illustration from food experiences in tourism’, Tourism Management, vol. 25, pp. 297-305.
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