DOT brings gastronomy fest to Cebu

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is using Filipinos love for food as a way to spur travel and tourism across the country.

On Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, the DOT brought its “Kaon ta, Kapin pa!” food and beverage festival with the theme, “Pulutan and Inuman to Cebu,” in Ayala Center Cebu.

Some 30 exhibitors from nine regions in the country including Central Visayas are showcasing their respective delicacies and other produce for three days until Nov. 13.

The participating regions are Central Visayas, National Capital Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

“Kaon Ta, Kain Pa!” is a flagship project of the DOT that aims to promote food/gastronomy tourism. It is envisioned and designed to sustain the country’s efforts to promote the Philippines as a center for food and gastronomy in Asia by promoting local ingredients, practices, and traditions in tourist destinations.

In partnership with Ayala Malls, the event highlights the culinary dimension and rich food culture of the country’s various tourism destinations.

It features fresh produce and products of local farmers and community groups, artisanal products of micro, small and medium enterprises, a “hapagkainan” communal table with a regional basket that showcases a colorful spread of regional ingredients and iconic food bites, food and farm talks, and food demonstrations by regional chefs.

Part of the program’s design is a thematic approach for each leg.

For the Cebu leg, the event theme is “Inuman at Pulutan,” highlighting the country’s iconic drinks and beverages, rich and colorful drinking culture, and artisanal brews, drafts, and infusions.

Attracting tourists

DOT undersecretary for legal and special concerns lawyer Mae Elaine Bathan said food tourism is one of the ways to attract local and foreign tourists especially since food is a vital aspect of cultural experience.

“Food has always been part of the Filipino experience. Our love for food did not even stop at the height of the pandemic,” said Bathan.

“In every tourism experience we just don’t look at the destination or places to go. Every time we travel we google where to eat and what to eat; and every time we do that we don’t look for the usual cuisine, we look for the food or cuisine that is distinct to that place.”

Pre-pandemic, Bathan said a tourist would spend 22.4 percent of his travel expense on food. Domestic travelers spend about eight percent and the majority of tourists would pick food as their homecoming gift or pasalubong to be shared with friends and family members back home.

Bathan said the three-day gastronomic feast will not only feature the food that is prepared but more importantly it will showcase the identity of the place for which the food actually represents.

Food, she said, is also a gateway to showcase the Filipino’s brand of service, hospitality and values.

Bathan also assured stakeholders and local government units of DOT’s full support in the promotion of food tourism in their respective places.

“We want the country’s tourism industry to be encompassing and inclusive and that includes all tourism enterprises, including food,” she said.

“The DOT would want to partner with the different stakeholders including malls in showcasing not just the famous and emerging destinations, but also other products and portfolios for which we can bolster and propel tourism,” Bathan added.

Jia Sadol, general manager of Ayala Center Cebu, said she hopes the three-day food and beverage festival will spark the interest of both local and foreign tourists to travel again and get to know the destinations, after trying out their best cuisines and delicacies.

As of Nov. 7, tourists arrivals to the Philippines has now reached 1.9 million exceeding the agency’s forecast of 1.7 million arrivals for 2022.