The State of Culinary Tourism in Korea

The South Korean Government has spent more than 100 million of dollars in an attempt to globalize their cuisine and make it one of the “top 10” cuisines in the world. They even started a “Korean Food Globalization Foundation” to assist in their efforts. As Korea is becoming a popular tourist destination, it would make sense to incorporate culinary tourism into their globalization endeavors. Is Korea ready to welcome tourists whose main purpose is the food? Not from what we have seen. As an operator of a cooking school and a food tour company in Seoul, there are many issues with the tourism because of outdated laws and a lack of infrastructure. Also, many local Korean restaurants are closing because of rising rents and ingredient costs. If efforts are not made to help preserve the Korean food culture, there won’t be much left to globalize nor restaurants to serve the food tourists have traveled to taste. The confusion on culinary tourism isn’t just in Korea, but worldwide as even the major travel website, trip advisor, also seems perplexed about how to categorize culinary schools and food tours.

I would like to ask other Culinary Schools and Culinary Tourism operators that have faced similar issues to unite with us to create awareness about culinary tourism. We need to start a movement to prove that it is not just a novelty or a niche concept. We need to unite to prove that we are working to preserve culture and we offer a valuable service to travelers and locals.

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Daniel Gray

O’ngo Food Communications
Seoul, Korea
www.ongofood.com
[email protected]

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray is a Korean adoptee and entrepreneur that returned to Korean in 2005 because he wanted to try and find his birth mother and to learn about Korean culture. He started a restaurant review blog in 2007, www.seouleats.com, that became a local and international hit. He and his blog has been featured in the New York Times, Monocle Magazine, The Kimchi Chronicles, Bizarre Foods, Rudy Maxa, Olive Magazine, Euronews and much more. He now is a partner at O’ngo Food Communications (www.ongofood.com), which is a culinary tourism and consulting company that offers Korean cooking classes and restaurant tours to travelers. In 2013, he started Brew 3.14 Pizza Pub. His food tours, cooking classes, and restaurant are ranked as some of the top attractions in Seoul according to the website tripadvisor. He lives in Korea with his wife.

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