Culinary tourism needs innovation and marketing to succeed

In what could give a serious booster shot to projecting India’s culinary diversity and depth, over a hundred eateries, among them the most successful brands, many of them amazing start-ups in the cuisine business, opened up this afternoon in Delhi at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the annual three-day GIG carnival. NITI Aayog CEO Mr. Amitabh Kant inaugurated the show and was appreciative of the efforts to showcase India’s culinary prowess. “This is Incredible India in the world of food. I remain impressed with the entrepreneurship of the youth in the country – which is constantly improvising and innovating on various culinary platforms,” he said.

Amitabh-KantHe was even more appreciative of the cuisines countered, selling authentic food from the neighboring Punjab, Lucknow and other centers, each known for its own brand of cuisine. Given the diversity and plethora of taste that Indian cuisines have to offer, our culinary offerings must become a principal plank in our bid to cement India as a major tourist hub. But, besides taking pride, and one should, we must be able to market them well. It is the lack of marketing of a genuine strength of the overall tourism offerings of our nation which is holding us back from realizing its true potential.

Gone are the days of ‘Delhi belly’ when foreigners were reluctant to try out Indian food. But, Indian cuisines, for all its variety and taste, still remain relatively unknown to the world. Innovative culinary tours could also attract a variety of foreigners to India. We seriously recommend food-courts, showcasing the diversity of Indian cuisine must be set-up in down-town areas of every metro city.  We must even explore the idea of establishing designated areas in the city for bringing all the street-food under one roof, lending it more visibility and playing to our innate strength. Of course, issues like standardization and quality assurance are some of the facets that the government will have to ponder on. However, these would be welcome draws, even for local residents, and will bring out greater knowledge of our own cuisines and provide a motivation for increase in domestic travel. The GIG carnival is a glimpse of what can be achieved though concerted action. Culinary tourism could well become a game-changer for India’s tourism and footfalls; whether we can capitalize on one of our biggest strength remains the moot question.

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