Lecture given by Mr. Georges HUSNI, on March 3, 2004

Lecture given by Mr. Georges HUSNI, founding president of the Syrian Academy and secretary of the International Academy of Gastronomy, during the International Forum on Health Tourism: “Gastronomy as a Principal Motivation in Tourism” – Santiago of Compostela (Spain), on March 3, 2004


To speak of gastronomy and/or of tourism, one has to recognize first the important place culinary art occupies, in its own right, in today’s world.

The dynamism of culinary art, which emerged during the past few years, has led to the pursuit of new flavors and of new tastes. This in turn became closely connected to the fame and the know-how of some renowned chefs as masters of their craft.

The development of international trade and the export of products to new territories have also promoted the diversification of tastes and flavors and have inspired a desire to travel in order to sample the delicacies and dishes of other cultures in their countries of origin. The speed of transport and the guarantee of the freshness of products have opened new avenues for gastronomy! The gradual disappearance of taste-related cultural barriers is attributed to the fact that more and more people developed a taste for new flavors from varied countries like China, India and Japan, and so on.

We find ourselves in a way within the process of the “internationalization’ of taste.

People’s mobility (linked in turn to recent advance in the field of transport), and the appeal of new tastes, have both paved the way for the growth of gastronomical tourism and hence of tourism in general.

The improvement of the standard of living in many countries has made gastronomy accessible to a larger number of people. Gastronomy now is not the preserve of the elite, it has become accessible to all budgets.

The concern on the part of some to resist the spread of junk and fasts food, recognized as one of the ailments of modern society, has, to a certain extent, animated the need to conserve gastronomy as the cultural heritage of every country.

Furthermore, the recognition of the harmful effects of all manner of chemicals related to the food-processing industry and the little known but suspect consequences of GMO (genetically modified organisms) have oriented the public towards healthy bio-products, very frequently used in “authentic” gastronomy. Gastronomy has also found its place in environmental tourism.

The ascent of a number of cookery schools under the patronage of great chefs, whether catering to professionals or t the public at large, greatly contributes to the flourishing of gastro-tourism. Examples in this respect are the courses offered by the Riz Hotel in Paris or those offered by other private hotels and establishments all over the world.

One must also recall in this respect Archestrate, Apicius, Brillat-Savarin, Careme, Escoffier, Tailevent and Vatel who, among others, have contributed to the articulation on gastronomy. Till today, they are internationally recognized and considered as the authority on culinary art.

Several top-of-the-range establishments host restaurants run by great chef. The existence of these restaurants has contributed to the global offer available for clients and continues to strengthen the quality image of these establishments. In this capacity, gastronomy stimulates the improvement of these establishments’ activities and attracts a new clientele. We site as example “Les Pres d’Eugenie” at Eugenie-Bains where Michel Guerard practices his art.

The appearance of restaurant guides, cookery books and specialized magazines, as well as the technological developments in the domain of information and communication (which allow the dissemination of know-how and information to a greater public), have further contributed to the promotion of gastro-tourism.

In any given country today, no web-site on tourism can offered to ignore the place of gastronomy, so attractive to the public, and which becomes a significant factor in the preparations for the trip.

Before departure, one obtains information about a country or the other from the gourmet web-site, in much the same way as other information related to the trip is obtained from other web-site. At times too, it is the chef’s reputation which attracts tourists towards a country. In order to plan one’s itinerary, even the determination of the length of the stay. Thanks to gastronomy, tourism budgets continue to grow.

All of these factors contribute to the development of gastronomy as well as to the expansion of tourism.

Gastronomy no longer confines itself to just “eating good food”, it becomes a cultural hobby and an artistic leisure. To dine at the table of a great chef is to attend a great show and to participate in a memorable experience like for example dining at Ferran Adria’s (by way of example) at El Bulli, which makes this place in Spain a gourmet’s destination and hence a touristic must.

Many tourists expect to enjoy in Switzerland the “emince de veau zurichoise the ”croute valaisanne” or the “viande des grisons” or to savor in France the “foi gras” in the south west, the “cassoulet” in Toulouse or the “rosette” in Lyon. In Spain, people expect to enjoy the “paella” and the “tapas” in Italy the “osso bucco” or the “risotto Milanese” and in Portugal the “baccalau” or the “Arros de Marescu”.

For all the amateurs of the region of Champagne, a visit to Epernay has become ineluctable. Wine amateurs travel across the world to discover a good variety of grapes and to sample new wines. Visiting the Xeres Valley or the Douros Valley, or going to Alba to savor the white truffles all usher in so many pleasures which render the trip so much more enjoyable.

This appeal which gastronomy has is the engine behind its growing place as a factor generating tourist activity.

Gastronomy as we can see from al this could promote the growth and the expansion of tourism in so many ways.

Finally, it is in the interest of tourism authorities to collaborate closely with gastronomic establishments in order to offer tourists a global perspective f the countries they choose to visit and to integrate the gastronomic elements into the global cultural context of the destination country. This cooperation should be translated into shared plans of action taking into account the recommendations and suggestions from gastronomic authorities and organs in order to harmonize actions to further the culinary and gastronomic dimension of tourism. This orientation cannot but benefit the economics of the countries concerned with gastronomy. 

Thank you for your kind attention


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© 2003 Académie Syrienne de la Gastronomie