Erik Wolf is not a rock star, but he is going on a world tour in 2011.
Wolf, the president and chief executive officer of the International Culinary Tourism Association, will be traveling around the world next year bringing meetings and education about culinary tourism to destinations from Oregon to New Zealand. “We’re bringing the education to them instead of making them come and get it,” he says.
ICTA has held regional symposiums in the past, but the 2011 Culinary Tourism World Tour is a brand-new concept for the association.
The idea sprang from the 2010 Culinary Tourism World Summit held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this past September. Many of the associations 15,000 members around the world expressed interest in attending, but a lot of them couldn’t due to budget or travel constraints. So Wolf and his staff came up with the idea of bringing the meeting to them. In the association newsletter, Wolf announced the World Tour and put out a call to all destination marketing organizations asking them if they would like to host a stop on the tour.
Much to Wolf’s delight, the requests came pouring in. ICTA got calls from destination marketing organizations in Berkeley, Calif.; Sonoma, Calif.; Eugene, Ore.; Texas; South Korea; New Zealand; Penang, Malaysia; Dubai, UAE; Vienna, Austria; Brazil; Peru; and Panama, and a few others that are not yet finalized. The plan is to schedule meetings for tourism industry leaders in these destinations to explain how they can develop and promote culinary tourism. The Malaysian government, for example, just launched the Malaysian Kitchen promotion in the U.K. to educate people about Malaysia and its unique cuisine.
Wolf will conduct a series of one-day seminars in each destination next year, but not on a nonstop tour (unlike a rock band). Instead he’ll schedule the trips every other month or so, hitting three or four destinations at a time in a given region of the world, combining Central and South American cities in one tour, for example.
At each stop, Wolf expects to draw anywhere from 50 to 250 attendees, perhaps more at some locales. ICTA, along with the CVB in the various cities, will market the meeting. ICTA will promote the meeting to its members in the particular region, while the DMO will market the conference locally.
Each one-day event will include approximately five sessions using Wolf and local experts as speakers. Some may even use multiple interpreters, depending on the region and audience. By the end of the seminar, attendees will know what culinary tourism is and how they can benefit from it. “The goal is to leave the destination with a game plan for how to move forward and implement a strategy,” says Wolf.
The meetings will be funded through registration fees and sponsorships. “One of the things that makes it so attractive is that this model does not require destinations to put any money into it—especially now with budgets being decimated or eliminated,” says Wolf. “We know how many delegates we need to have. If we don’t get enough registrants, we’ll have to cancel it.”
It may seem like a lot of traveling to some, but Wolf says that for a road warrior like himself, who heads up an international association, it’s par for the course.