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Journal of Food and Drug Research

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Senior foodies: An evolving niche market in gastronomic tourism

Author(s): Adela Balderas

 The world’s population is ageing. Because of these global demographic changes it has resulted in the increased participation of older (or senior) adults in tourism and leisure activities and has prompted governments and tourism providers in many developed regions of the world to identify senior travelers as a priority market. An increasingly healthy senior market segment now has the time and purchasing power to travel more frequently. This has helped to create an emerging special interest or niche market that has been termed culinary or gastronomic tourism. The relationship between food and tourism has always been an increasingly important segment in the real worlds of hospitality, destination marketing, and tourism development. However, only recently we have seen the acceptance of the growth in interest in gastronomic tourism as an academic field of study. At the same time, there has been little research that has been carried out on the socio-demographics of this niche market. In other words, researchers have previously assumed that they all tourists experience gastronomic tourism in similar ways. As a result, little research has been found in the tourism literature, however there is some evidence to suggest that older gastronomic tourists are often very experienced travelers who have the time and money to seek out and experience foreign cultures through local food consumption that display different food preferences. On the other hand, other studies have noted diminished taste and olfactory sensitivity of older tourists, and a preference for familiar foods rather than trying out local cuisine so as to avoid any negative effects from change in diet or to control existing health problems. More research needs to be conducted to assist tourism providers and marketeers to better understand and promote the importance of the gastronomic consumption needs and expectations of the older market segment.