Bangkok, 1 June, 2018 – The 4th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism ended today with rousing words of appreciation for the warmth and hospitality of the Thai hosts and a strong commitment to advance the culinary and cultural agenda across the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific regions.
Held for the first time in Asia, from 30 May to 1 June, 2018, the Forum was organised by the UN World Tourism Organisation, the Basque Culinary Centre with the support of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The 588 delegates heard from a diverse range of expert speakers from chefs, restaurateurs, consultants and professors to marketing and technological gurus.
They also enjoyed a wide variety of Thai cuisine at grassroots and fine-dining restaurants, local marketplaces and street vendors. Senior officials who attended the forum included UNWTO Secretary-General Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Tourism Minister of Jamaica Mr. Edmund Bartlett, Mr. Joxe Mari Aizega, Director, Basque Culinary Center and PATA CEO Mr. Mario Hardy.
In their wrap-up sessions, delegates stressed that gastronomy tourism needs to be promoted across the Asia-Pacific region through creative story-telling, supportive policies and improved training. As such, gastronomy tourism could play a major role by advancing the cause of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said: “We are indeed proud to be the first country in Asia to host this historic event. It has been an eye-opening learning experience for all of us. It has cemented the strong bonds between travel & tourism on one hand, and agriculture and cuisine on the other.
“The creativity, ideas and energetic presentations have helped raise the entire industry to a new level and will go a long way towards meeting our common objectives of alleviating poverty, narrowing the income gap, creating jobs and establishing a more fair distribution of earnings.”
The governor noted that both “gastronomy” and “tourism” are interlinked.
“Both are evolving in line with demographic and technological changes, and both have their roots in traditional culture and tradition. They create opportunities across the entire chain of command, from upmarket fine-dining restaurants to street vendors. They all have their unique characteristics which can change literally from one village to the next.”
Mr. Yuthasak added Thailand had benefitted substantially from the feedback received.
“The workshops and tours generated valuable consumer research on how we can improve the quality of our gastronomic and culinary products. We will carefully analyse all the comments and see what we can do to improve one of the most important aspects of our travel & tourism portfolio.”
One participant noted that although there are thousands of Thai restaurants all over the world serving the best of Thai cuisine, there is nothing quite like the enjoyment of being in a Thai atmosphere, in the midst of local people and communities.
The 5th and 6th UNWTO Gastronomy Forums will be held again in Europe in 2019 and 2020. However, the Indonesians were well represented at the Bangkok forum and are planning to build on the seed planted in Thailand by hosting an ASEAN Gastronomy Tourism conference in 2019.