World Food Travel Association. Day 1 Talks. 23/9/2013 by Grace Fitzgerald
Founded in 2008, the World Food Travel Association is the largest organization of its kind within the food and travel industry what with 18,000 members in 130 countries. The biennial event is this year held in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the Radisson Blu Scandanavia Hotel. The theme of the 2013 conference is ‘The New Wave in Food Tourism’, 4 days of inspiration, connecting and growth for thought leaders in the world’s food, drink, tourism & hospitality industries. 24 inspirational speakers and 300 delegates from around the world are in attendance.
The summit is designed in the Ted-style, with short 20 minute talks, structured Q&As, and lessons learned and innovations drawn from a variety of industries; tour operators, academics, trade, media, drink producers, farms, farmers markets, culinary events, retails and attractions. John Mulholland, Editor of The Observer, London is the Emcee. And Erik Wolf, Executive Director of the WFTA, and author of soon to be published book ‘Have fork will travel’, opened the talks and concluded his presentation with “We need to rethink communication strategies. We need to move more towards interactive communications—social media”.
Some recurring themes in the opening day of the summit talks included how food and drink—more than any other experience—have the power to leave a longer lasting impression on the visitor.
In live streaming from Shanghai, China, Yi Ta Chang spokeon the Chinese traveller of today—and tomorrow. He delivered insight on Chinese behavioural tendencies and concluded with the insight that to engage and attract the Chinese potential tourist, social media is the key channel. Other key points discussed were the positive effects of storytelling as a communications method, the power of authenticity in a market saturated with advertising, and the importance of planning development strategy to support marketing aspirations.
West Sweden is famed for its wide variety of top-quality, natural, organic produce. The forests of inland Dalsland provide an impressive range of game, berries, mushrooms and fresh fish, while the countryside bordering the Göta Canal is teeming with farm shops selling locally produced fine cheeses, high-quality dairy products, beer and schnapps. Fertile farmland makes the region ideal for growing crops and raising livestock on sustainable and traditional organic lines. Unique culinary highlights include wild garlic in the spring in Kinnekulle, exclusive roe from Lake Vänern in the autumn and fresh seafood all year round. In the cold, clean and mineral-rich water of Sweden’s West coast, shellfish grow more slowly, developing a fuller flavour, which makes these North Sea shellfish some of the best in the world. Visitors can treat themselves to lobster, mussels, oysters, crayfish and prawns, and learn how to catch and cook them on a unique seafood safari.
The region’s capital city, Gothenburg’s coastal location means easy access to fish and shellfish that stand out on quality and flavour. Add an authentic coffee shop culture that prides itself on its cakes and pastries, and Gothenburg is a food lover’s paradise. The city’s chefs work with local produce and seasonal food, preferably organic. Their modern approach to cuisine rests on Swedish traditions combined with new flavours and ideas drawn from all over the world. Today six restaurants in Gothenburg – 28+, Bhoga, Koka, Sjömagasinet, SK Mat & Människor and Thörnströms Kök – have been awarded a Michelin star. But if you’re looking for fabulous food, there’s far more to Gothenburg than that. Gothenburg was named Sweden’s Food Capital in 2012, with the jury citing the vast array of food the city has to offer, its abundance of local produce and high-quality restaurants, not to mention the fact that the food served in schools and hospitals is nutritious as well as sustainably sourced.
There’s no beating about the bush with Swedish Fia Gulliksson of Östersund—a woman on a mission. She is all about three things; people, passion and produce. She tells us how she brought Östersund, her regional area of Sweden, to international acclaim through sheer will and determination.