Growing #foodtourism in #Alberta with a creative @AlbertaBoostR #crowdfunding campaign

kanderson-0j9a9937-loreephotographyI don’t normally talk about my business much on this blog but I’m going to now because it’s a huge part of my creative life and it’s about to get a whole lot bigger.

I founded Calgary Food Tours 10 years ago this month and I’ve intentionally grown my business very slowly for two reasons. I’m a momtrepreneur and needed to take baby steps to match my family’s growth and I think I was a bit ahead of the game when I started. Now my family is grown, Alberta’s food scene is ready to be on the world’s menu and I’m ready to take my business to the next level.

I’ve created a collaborative community of food lovers and food businesses in Calgary through Calgary Food Tours and now I’ve launched a crowd funding campaign so that we can build a broader community and become Alberta Food Tours. We want to offer our maverick brand of food, fun and adventure in Canmore and Edmonton as well. You can watch a short video and read all about our plans and our ATB BoostR campaign here. I’ll provide a little more background about why food tourism is here to stay in the rest of this post.


from the garden at Rouge Restaurant - photo credit - Karen Anderson
Fresh, local and seasonal at Rouge Calgary – photo – Karen Anderson

The World Food Travel Association recently reported that food tourism is here to stay and is not just another food fad. They define food tourism as the pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences both near and far. Here’s a few facts gleaned from their research as follows:

  • 30 per cent of tourists deliberately choose designations based on the availability of activities related to food and drink
  • 51 per cent said they travel to learn about unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences
  • 61 per cent are interested in taking a trip to engage in culinary activities within the next year
  • travellers are most interested in local and authentic foods that are different from what they can get at home
  • they combine food activities with other activities related to culture and heritage
  • they increasing rely on recommendation of friends and social media
  • festivals motivate food travellers
  • 83 per cent enjoy learning about learning about culture through cuisine and the same percentage will spend more money on food and drinks while travelling
  • 25 per cent of dollars spent during travel are spent on food and drink

If you would travel across town to try a new food, you’re a food traveller. It’s a very inclusive definition. I like that.

Some travellers want to book every aspect of their vacations themselves while others want their experience wrapped up in a nice package with a bow. Food tours offer a happy medium. We don’t package your whole vacation but if you are visiting a new destination, we bundle up a great introduction to the culture of that place through walking and tasting tours that share lots about the history,art and culture of a place. We offer an experience and not just another hit or miss meal.

Many smart travellers now tell us, that they make it a habit to land and take a food tour as their first activity in a city. They know they’ll get to meet a local, make a friend, mix with other locals and visitors, get insider info and introductions to business owners and receive lots of extra recommendations about what to do and where to eat.

I’m convinced that food tours are good for my locale and that’s why I’m creating these new ways to showcase Alberta’s farmers, chefs, markets, restaurants and food artisans. We pay for all the food our guests sample and because we work with businesses that source as much product from within Alberta as possible we know we’re having a positive effect on our local economy.

We’re creating value for food and we’re helping to create a food culture in this province. I take people to India every year to explore that ancient food and culture. I’d be delighted if people came and toured with Alberta Food Tours for a week or more. We’re an emerging food culture but we’ve got lots of tasty business in this province with signature foods like beef, bison, red fife wheat, honey, root vegetables, canola and Saskatoon berries to boast about.

It’s fun to be a pioneer and to help shape an industry. I hope you’ll send us your good wishes or better yet take advantage of the rewards that we’re offering for boosting our campaign. I hope we’ll see you on a food tour soon in Calgary, Canmore and Edmonton. When all is said and done, we are nothing without our guests and it’s only with the demand you’ll create that we’ll be able to realize our dream of growing food tourism in Alberta. Food tours are one of my most favourite ways to savour it all I hope you’ll find that too.

Rheannon Green, events coordinator of ACTA enjoying a Taste of Markerville – photo – Karen Anderson




Leave a Reply