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
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
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
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
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
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