Exploring marketing strategy of culinary tourism development
in Hong Kong and Singapore:
A resource-based theory
Chen-Tsang (Simon) Tsai
Ph.D. Candidate, Division of Hospitality Management & Education,
Department of Human Development & Family Studies,
National Taiwan Normal University,
Professor and Dean, Graduate Institute of Tourism & Hospitality,
JinWen University of Science and Technology,
This study focuses on Hong Kong and Singapore, and aims to explore the relationship between
food and culinary tourism development strategies, their marketing strategies and contents, and
analyze the framework for marketing strategies of developing culinary tourism from an RBT
perspective. The methodology is mainly through in-depth interviews with strategy planners in
tourism boards, and assisted with content analysis of academic documents and official publications
on tourism to explore the marketing strategy of culinary tourism in Hong Kong and Singapore. The
result shows that although Hong Kong and Singapore do not have abundant natural resources to
develop more diverse tourism experiences, they do have a diverse food and culture background, and
with the combination of tourism and creativity, they can forge a culinary tourism which is
innovative, diverse, and attracts people’s attention. Meanwhile, public and private sectors can form
strategic alliances to enhance tourism attractiveness through different marketing strategies, and
present the image of the destination’s culinary culture. In the final part, this study proposes
suggestions on culinary tourism marketing strategies and practices based on the findings above.
Key words: Resource-based theory; marketing; strategy; culinary tourism; Hong Kong; Singapore.
Countries, areas and regions have been zealously devoted to the development of tourism to
improve their national economy and national images. Therefore, it is now an important issue to
exert natural and cultural resources as bases for tourism planning and strategic development, and
connect all forces in social, cultural, and political aspects. The product portfolio of a tourist
destination consists of various visible and invisible products and services, and food is a burgeoning
element for the destination to develop tourism (Okumus, Okumus, & McKercher, 2007; Quan &
Wang, 2004). Consequently, culinary tourism is not only a rising category of tourism, but also an
opportunity for the destination and industries to gain a competitive edge (ICTA, 2009).
Resource-based theory (RBT) is a concept combining economic theory and strategic theory. It
describes that the long term competitiveness of an industry stands in the endowment of its unique
resources. And the resources should be enduring, and hard to imitate or replace (Barney, 1991;
Barney, Wright, & Ketchen, 2001; Grant, 1991; Peteraf, 1993; Porter, 1991; Prahalad & Hamel,
1990). A nation is also like a company, and the main resources needed to develop culinary tourism
are food and culture (Long, 2004). It is essential to connect the resources with the strategies of
tourism development, maximizing the multiplier effect of culinary tourism, and enhance the
competitiveness of the nation’s culinary tourism development (Fox, 2007; Teo & Chang, 2000).
And tourism strategies should be market-led (i.e. tourist demand focused) and product-led (based on
the resources of the destination) so as to create a sustainable tourism development (Weaver, 2000;
Stokes, 2008). It is the one and only way to create and sustain the competitiveness of a nation’s
tourism economy. In researches related to resource-based view (RBV) or RBT, many of them tend
to focus on the fields of human resource management, economics and finance, entrepreneurship,
and international business (Barney et al., 2001; Espino-Rodríguez & Padrón-Robaina, 2005). But so
far there is no study conducted to explore the marketing strategy of culinary tourism development
from the RBT perspective. Hence it is the main motive of this study.
For many countries in Asia, cuisines have become major pull factors to attract tourists, like the
situation in Hong Kong and Singapore (Enright & Newton, 2005; Hong Kong Planning Department,
2008; Singapore Tourism Board, 2007). Taking Hong Kong as an example, its cuisine is a key
focus of the travel experience it provides, and also the most important category of the tourist service
and products that Hong Kong provides (Kivela & Crotts, 2005). As a result, Hong Kong has been
dedicated to the marketing and promotion of the cuisines (Okumus et al., 2007). Singapore, similar
to Hong Kong, proposed the slogan “Singapore: the Food Capital of Asia,” and it also treats “food”
and “dining out” as major factors in its tourist marketing. With its unique framework, Singapore
crafted related policies to stimulate culinary tourism development (Henderson, 2004). It is evident
that culinary tourism has great influence on the tourism development; therefore, this study has three
main purposes: (1) to explore the relationship between food and tourism development strategies in
Hong Kong and Singapore, (2) to explore Hong Kong and Singapore’s marketing strategies and
contents of culinary tourism, and (3) to analyze the framework for marketing strategies of
developing culinary tourism from the RBT perspective.
Applied resource-based theory in culinary tourism
In The theory of the growth of the firm, Penrose (1959) mentioned that for a company to profit,
the company must not only gain resources, but also effectively exert the distinctive competence of
the resources. This can be said to be the pioneer of resource-based theory (Montgomery, 1996). And
in the strategic management field, Wernerfelt (1984) followed Penrose’s theory and first proposed
the term RBV (resource-based view). He pointed out the usefulness of analyzing firms from the
resource side rather than from the product side. In his view, with proper use of resources and proper
management to enhance the efficiency of the resources, a company can restore and accumulate
resource advantages that other competitors cannot have, and create a long-term sustaining
competitive advantage. Afterwards, Barney (1986) furthered Wernerfelt’s thesis and proposed that
different companies, with different strategic resources, will have different future values, so their
performances are affected not only by the competition in the product market, but also by the
different resources they hold. As a result, a company should analyze its unique technologies and
capabilities before adopting any strategy. Grant (1991) replaced the term RBV with RBT
(resource-based theory) to emphasize that if a company can hold strategic resources that others
can’t imitate, it can achieve performance higher than its opponents, and that also means holding a
sustainable competitive advantage. According to the analysis of Acedo, Barroso, and Galan (2006,
p.621), RBT commonalities could be found its widespread dissemination in academic literature and
in management practices and reputation as a mainly strategic management approach. Therefore, this
study has adopted the term RBT instead of just treating it as a view.
The focus of strategic management lies in exploring and understanding what the companies’
competitive advantages are, and how to craft strategies and bring out bright performance
accordingly. Barney (1991) pointed out that RBV assumes that resources are heterogeneous in
nature and not perfectly mobile, and resources can transform the competitive advantage into a real
performance. Also, resources can be categorized into physical capital resource (e.g. technology,
equipments, geographic location, material), human capital resource (e.g. training, experience), and
organizational capital resource (formal structure, planning, control, coordination, and informal
group relationship). Based on the issues above, Grant (1991) proposed a five-step strategic analysis
framework (see Figure 1): first to identify a firm’s resources and capabilities, then appraise the
firm’s rent-generating potential, select a strategy, and then augment and upgrade the firm’s resource
base. This will also be the analytical bases of this study.
Figure 1 A resource-based approach to strategy analysis: A practical framework
Resource: Grant R. M. (1991). The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: Implications for strategy
formulation. California Management Review, 33(3), p.115.
However, from the RBT perspective, for any nation, area or region, food is not only an
important resource for culinary tourism development, but also a feature which can become the
value-added for the destination (Handszuh, 2000; Telfer & Wall, 1996). Besides, food can also be a
sustainable competitive advantage of the destination (Crouch & Ritchie, 1999). In order to compete
with other popular destinations and to understand or improve culinary tourism planning, it is
important to learn from the best practices, and make one’s national planning a benchmark for global
best practices (Wolf, 2002; Hall & Sharples, 2003). Through dynamic marketing activities, tourists
can be motivated to purchase local food. But this will require specific marketing strategies to appeal
to potential and target tourists. For example, the planners can have a strategic alliance of food
producers, handlers, sellers, hotels, restaurants, wine sellers, and cooks, so as to improve the image
of local cuisines (Telfer, 2000).
Based on the information above, if we are going to analyze the marketing strategy of culinary
tourism development from the RBT perspective, first we have to identify and categorize different
resources, evaluate the advantage and disadvantages each competitor holds, and make sure of the
opportunities to effectively utilize all resources. Second, we have to identify the capabilities of the
public sectors to make sure that, compared with our competitors, we can be more effective and
more devoted in terms of the resources utilized. At the same time, we have to evaluate the potential
of the resources and capabilities, of the sustainable competitive advantages, and of being exclusive.
Also, we have to check external opportunities, threats, resources, and capabilities, so as to identify
the resource gaps which must be filled. And last, we have to fill the resource gaps to strengthen the
In recent years, there is a new form of tourism which regards food-tasting as the major or only
purpose, like food and wine tourism, culinary tourism, gastronomy tourism or gastronomic tourism,
food festival and other related-food activity (Hall & Sharples, 2003; Hashimoto & Telfer, 2006;
Henderson, 2004; Ignatov & Smith, 2006; Kivela & Crotts, 2005, 2006; Long, 2004; Quan & Wang,
2003; Richards, 2002; Santich, 2004). “Culinaria” and “gastronomy” are often viewed as synonyms,
which both mean the cooking skills, food materials, and food preparation skills that can enhance a
country or region’s feature cuisine. And in 1998, the term “culinary tourism” was proposed for the
first time, referring to the concept that tourists can experience other countries’ cultures or exotic
local cultures through tasting their foods (Long, 2004), and the term also generally means that the
purpose of traveling is to explore and enjoy the special foods which show the characteristics of the
destination, and try the unforgettable delicious cuisines (Wolf, 2002). After reviewing many
definitions in past bibliographies, Ignatov and Smith (2006) pointed out that culinary tourism may
be defined as “tourism trips during which the purchase or consumption of regional foods (including
beverages), or the observation and study of food production (from agriculture to cooking schools)
represent a significant motivation or activity” (p.238). Therefore, the uniqueness of the cuisine of
the destination has become the major factor that makes the destination popular and attractive, and it
also enhances the country’s image of its cuisine culture.
Documents collection and analysis procedure
A few studies on related-food tourism employed approach of content analysis (Boyne & Hall,
2004; Boyne et al., 2003; Frochot, 2003; Hjalager & Corigliano, 2000; Okumus et al., 2007). In
order to compare and explore marketing strategy of culinary tourism development in Hong Kong
and Singapore, this study used content analysis that was a technique for gathering and analyzing the
content of text, and the content refers to words, meanings, pictures, symbols, ideas, themes, or any
message that can be communicated (Neumann, 2003, p. 219). According to the protocols identified
by Finn, Elliot-White, & Walton (2000) and Neumann (2003), first of all, the aims and objectives of
the research were identified and a coding scheme was developed. In the second stage, up-to-date
print and electronic brochures and booklets in English and Chinese were collected from the HKTB
and the Singapore Tourism Board and their respective official websites. Videos attached to websites
and materials produced officially by national tourism offices were also content analyzed. In the
third stage, content-analysis was used to identity and explores marketing strategy of culinary
tourism development. In stage four, the initial results were compared and, when disparities arose,
they were analyzed until a consensus was achieved. In the final stage, the results were refined and
the research findings were finalized.
Major directions of interviews
For doing cross check, this study conducted 2 semi-structured interviews with Regional
Directors of Hong Kong and Singapore tourism board in Taiwan involved with policy planning and
international marketing in tourism destinations. A list of semi-structured questions－informed by
the frameworks proposed by food-related tourism literature (e.g. du Rand et al., 2003) but more
focused in marketing strategy and development－was drawn up and used as an interview guide. In
order to obtain and ensure validity and reliability of data, a letter stating the objective and the
interview questions of this study was then sent to each Director, followed by personal phone calls to
schedule the date and time for interview. Interviews were conducted by the researchers at the
interviewees’ office and either face-to-face or conducted by telephone, involved both researchers
and were taped and transcribed to ensure reliability (Eisenhardt, 1989; Wang & Fesenmaier, 2007).
The interview transcripts were coded and analyzed by each one of the authors separately
following RBT (Grant, 1991); however, many codes were derived form the interview guide and
thus from the authors’ theoretical pre-understanding of the situation (Ryan & Bernard, 2003).
Building upon the RBT on which this study was based, the participants answer and document
literature were coded and classified.
Reliability and validity
In order to ensure the reliability and validity of the analysis procedure and content, four
researchers who are doctoral graduates and majored in tourism and hospitality management
carefully reviewed and discussed each text, and then categorized according Hong Kong and
Singapore’s marketing strategies and events based on RBT. Next, an outside researcher was invited
to review all the data and categorize them. The results were compared for consistency. The results
show a consistency of 92% between the two reviews, indicating a reliability of over 80 percent
(Latham & Saari, 1984). Meanwhile, three culinary tourism professionals were invited to evaluate
content reliability (Sadarangani & Gaur, 2004). Researchers and all three professionals worked
together to compare and negotiate the results with which they disagree, and categories were
finalized when agreement was reached. Finally, according to the evaluation results, all three
professionals agreed the present study includes all current marketing strategies for culinary tourism,
and therefore that it has considerable content reliability.
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
Identify and classify the country’s culinary tourism resource
Gastronomy and food culture
For countries lack of natural resources needed for culinary tourism activities, the key point is
to make the best choice for the food available. And the choices can show the composition of the
society, the culture, and the dynamics (Henderson, 2004). Because of their geographical position,
Hong Kong and Singapore lack the natural resources, and their agricultural development is
restricted. But also because of their geographical position, they have unique and multiethnic food
cultures, which become the core resource for these two places to develop culinary tourism. On the
level of products for culinary tourism, food or cuisine is the physical products exemplifying
culinary culture, and the content of culinary culture is the brand story formulating culinary
For example, in Hong Kong, “tea restaurant” culture, can be said to be the representing cuisine
exemplifying this integration and creation. Yum Cha and “Dim Sum” are definitely not original
“traditional” cuisines, but they surely set an identification mark for Hong Kong cuisines. Similarly,
Singapore’s culinary culture reflects the influences of each, but also integrates them into one, to
make Singapore culinary culture special and different.
Hong Kong cuisines are basically exotic and diversified (2-H-45)…Hong Kong is a
metropolitan, it has exotic food from all over the world, along with its local and Chinese
dishes. Therefore, the culinary culture in Hong Kong is rich and abundant (2-H-17). Dim
Sum, for example, is a major culinary culture (2-H-57).
Thinking of Singapore’s distinguishing feature, I think its cuisine is a major one (1-S-4).
Tourists can experience our culture through our food (1-S-13). Every cuisine has its
special way of cooking. Take the famous Singapore Laksa for example, Malay and Indian
cook it differently (1-S-25). The culture and cuisine of Peranakan can also be used to
develop and promote tourism (1-S-89).
Of course, national, regional, local and ethnic cuisines can show their identifications, and are
also tools to preserve and prove their cultures. Famous cuisines can also be symbolic
representations of different places (Henderson, 2004). The most famous Singapore cuisines are
Hainan Chicken Rice, Bak Kut The, and Chilli Crab, which can be the feature cuisines that the local
residents feel proud of, and also the important themes for Singapore to promote its culinary tourism,
and attract tourists to enjoy this classic must-eats. From the cultural aspect, food is a part of culture,
a distinguishing element of different regions and communities, and an important cornerstone of
In 2004, ten cuisines were chosen to be the top 10 representative food of Singapore: Satay,
Bak Kut The, Chilli/Pepper Crab, Hainan Chicken Rice, Roti Canai & Teh Tarik, Laksa,
Curry Fish Head, Fried Kuey Teow, Rojak, and Carrot Cake (1-S-33)!
To develop culinary tourism, in addition to software resources like cuisines and culinary
cultures, hardware resources are also needed for cuisines to present, like food processing, food
stores, food-related museums, restaurants, urban restaurant districts, and food routes etc (Ignatov &
Smith, 2006). In Hong Kong, besides all those Chinese and exotic restaurants everywhere, there are
also food districts (e.g. causeway bay, KowLoon city, Tsim Sha Tsui et c.), effectively distributing
culinary resources and providing various food routes. There are even museums exhibiting tea
culture (HKTB, 2008). Similarly, Singapore cuisines reflect the best part of the multiethnic and
multicultural interactions in the past decades on this island state. Therefore, dining is categorized
into Sky Dining, Tropical Garden Dining, Waterfront Dining, Romantic Dining, etc. At the same
time, there are also food stands and food centers catering prepared food. All these give the culinary
experience more diversity (STB, 2008).
Previously, the Singapore government had no control over the food stands in Chinatown
(1-S-133). After re-planning, the look and services of food stands were standardized, with
the original local culinary features intact. Now we can be more confident of this culinary
service (1-S-134). Night market is a characteristic of Taiwan, a must-go for tourists
visiting Taiwan. Night markets are not only tourist spots of Taiwan, but also a powerful
Generally speaking, the culinary cultural context of a country is an important resource for
establishing the culinary tourism destination, and also an important background for marketing the
brand story of the culinary tourism destination. At the same time, local feature cuisines should also
combine with culinary facilities to build up a cooperative network, enhance the relationship among
the core sources of culinary tourism, and maximizing the resource performance of culinary culture
Identify the country’s capabilities for developing culinary tourism
After the country’s core culinary tourism resources are identified, the second step is to identify
the government and related organization’s capabilities in utilizing resources and getting people
involved. STB especially established a Food and Beverage Division to take care of the marketing
and development of culinary tourism. This division is in charge of the market, product and industry
development, and channel management of Singapore cuisines, with the goal of establishing
Singapore as a destination that combines local and international cuisines, dining experiences and
night life (Henderson, 2004). Besides, STB also collaborates with other public sectors to work out
plans for famous tourist spots, providing comfortable dining environment and high-quality food that
the tourists can enjoy. Thus it can be seen that the promotion of tourism can’t rely on just one
certain department. It is important for all related public sectors to collaborate and coordinate,
making the best use of all the professions and maximizing the potential of culinary tourism.
We work with many organizations (1-S-182), like Ministry of National Development,
National Environment Agency, Ministry of Transport, etc (1-S-184). The responsibility to
promote tourism belongs to STB, but it requires cooperation of all related organizations
Hong Kong also realized that it lives on tourism. Therefore, the general public in Hong Kong
is very cooperative in terms of government tourism promotion activities, and even the entertainers
are willing to be the advertising stars for free. It is especially true when the SARS epidemic
severely hit Hong Kong tourism. At that time, it was Cathay Pacific that first proposed programs to
encourage travels and save tourism. The close cooperation between the public and private sectors in
Hong Kong is the most important factor contributing to Hong Kong’s success nowadays.
For a long time, I think a distinguishing feature of Hong Kong’s tourism is that it
combines pretty well with private sectors and organizations (2-H-1).
If the government has any idea about promoting tourism, it only has to coordinate with the
industry and try to reach a consensus. The private sectors usually response quickly and
are willing to cooperate. Besides, they also proposed many great ideas (2-H-2)!
Therefore we can know that the public sectors should set up high-level DMOs to handle the
establishment and execution of strategies and policies related to culinary tourism development, and
coordinate other departments or the private human resource and capitals appropriately to make
culinary tourism development more complete and comprehensive.
Appraising potential of resources and capabilities for culinary tourism
Hong Kong and Singapore are limited in terms of natural resources, but they enjoy abundant
and diverse cultural resources (e.g. language, food culture), which become a great competitive
advantage in developing cultural tourism. Hong Kong’s DMOs think the diversity of Hong Kong’s
international cuisines has become a major competitive advantage of this city (Enright & Newton,
2005). This concept has to be accepted by the private sectors, so that the private sectors can be the
pioneers to promote tourism. At the same time, the strategic alliance of different industries is the
best way to make good use of the resources and professions. And the alliance of different sectors in
the tourism industry will enhance the promotion of all products, and lower the pressure of
competing with each other.
Being a good Hong Kong citizen and enterprise, Cathay Pacific presents this “I love
Hong Kong” campaign, integrating airlines, travel agencies, restaurants, hotels and
overseas partners (2-H-37). When private companies see that the tourism is going low,
they will stand out, provide most resources, and remind people this important concept that
the entire Hong Kong is one community (2-H-46).
Besides, the tourism boards of Hong Kong and Singapore both agree that large-scale
international culinary festivals are the greatest competitive advantage in culinary tourism
development. These festivals integrate local resources and professions from public and private
sectors, so as to bring local cuisines onto the international stage. The examples are the “Singapore
Food Festival,” which presents the food and drinks of Singapore, the “World Gourmet Summit”
(WGS), which is an international cooking performance; and the annual “Best of the Best Culinary
Awards” at Hong Kong. It is essential to bring those quality cuisines out of the sites and into the
common restaurants everywhere, so the tourists can have a chance to really taste all kinds of
Singapore food festival is mainly about authentic Singapore local food culture, and
actually when we talk about Singapore food, we’re talking about local food
(1-S-22)…There is another annual “World Gourmet Summit,” held every April,
introducing high class restaurant in Singapore. The wine and dine they present will bring
the tourists a totally different culinary experience (1-S-99).
Therefore, we can see that in order to provide the tourists new products and services, it is
essential to create new connections and cooperation, so food can link to other economic activities
(e.g. food festivals, restaurant). In other words, in order to increase the value-added of
culinary/gastronomy tourism, all related activities have to be integrated to promote the value of
visitor’s culinary experience. Food might just be one factor contributing to the economy, but when
food combines with restaurants, markets, and stores, together they constitute the most important
part in tourist activities. That’s the part the tourists will spend time and money on, and pay attention
Select a marketing strategy for promoting culinary tourism
Gourmet travel guidebook and brochures
Marketing tools can affect the tourists’ decision in choosing their destination, and the images
and information in marketing media are also helpful in promoting the positive images of the
destination. Nowadays, the promotional tools used for gastronomy/culinary tourism marketing are
diverse, including brochures, guides, websites, electronic media, and publications (du Rand et al.,
2003). As we can see from the choices of Hong Kong and Singapore on marketing tools for
promoting culinary tourism, the publications or guides to cuisines are the most practical way of
marketing, which provides handy direct reference for tourists. Similarly, information on official
sites and blogs can also provide information about culinary tourism, and this media provides images
and texts side by side, which better describes the social realities and the characteristics in that
culture (Bessière, 1998; Frochot, 2003). All these are important in marketing.
We have many advertisements or travel brochures, with large percentages of culinary
information included. Cuisine is one essential element of traveling in Hong Kong, so in
addition to touristic spot introductions and shopping suggestions, we must also tell our
readers what and where to eat (2-H-70). It is quite effective (2-H-110).
International food/gastronomy events and festivals
Food events/festivals are not only a major part of culinary tourism, but also important
marketing tools and activities, through which the tourists can really experience the local culinary
culture (du Rand et al., 2003). Food events/festivals can also demonstrate the characteristics of local
food and living culture, and promote local food heritage. In addition to local food events/festivals,
Hong Kong and Singapore also hold international level food events/festivals to appeal to both local
and international tourists. For example, STB holds annual Singapore Food Festival (which features
Chili Crab) and World Gourmet Summit, along with other cultural activities features Indian food,
Chinatown food, etc. As for Hong Kong, it has the Best of the Best Culinary Awards, which aims to
make creative cuisines available to anyone, so as to popularize the restaurants, and promote the
The annual Singapore Food Festival features Chili Crab (1-S-59). The chili crab weekend
is followed by the Indian food week, during which we encourage everyone to visit Little
India, and then maybe followed by the Chinatown week. If we can have four or five
weekends to feature cuisines from different districts respectively, it is enough to hold a
food festival (1-S-64).
Restaurants can be promoted and marketed through World Gourmet Summit (1-S-101).
The World Gourmet Summit includes not only local Singapore food, but also all kinds of
quality cuisines (1-S-102). Be it Japanese food or gourmet from other places, as long as it
is good food or good wine, it can promote in World Gourmet Summit (1-S-103). The
organizer co-organizes this event with STB, so it can invite famous chefs from all over the
world to join the promotion (1-S-104), and many people come specifically for these chefs’
Advertising endorsers for promoting local/region cuisines
When the destination is marketing its cuisines, in addition to stressing the characteristic of
cuisines themselves, it is a fundamental marketing strategy to market through advertisements (du
Rand et al., 2003). Famous people attract consumers’ attention and recognition. Therefore, if the
advertisements can find suitable endorsers, it can help to bring out favorable attitude and behavior
of the consumers. Besides, if the image of the celebrity endorser fits the characteristics of the
products or the image and concept of the target market, the effect is usually positive (Hawkins, Best,
& Coney 2001). Hong Kong and Singapore both invite reputable celebrities (e.g. gastronomes,
actors, singers) to endorse their culinary cultures, promote the culinary cultural images, and present
A characteristic of Hong Kong is that local people love this place. Many festivals will
invite performing artists as endorsers, like Karen Mok, Daniel Wu, and Twins. They
endorse for free (2-H-112), and their endorsement greatly strengthens the power of the
whole promotion (2-H-113).
Restaurants quality certificate for promising safety dining
To ensure the tourists have high quality cuisines, Hong Kong and Singapore both have strict
quality assurance certification systems. Certified restaurants can become more famous, and the
tourists can enjoy the quality-assured cuisines, which give the tourists great impression on the
destination and increase the possibility of their visiting again. This shows that regulations are
indispensable to the development of regional culinary tourism. For example, HKTB brought up the
Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme to raise overall service standards and visitors' confidence.
With the QTS sign as an indicator, tourists can easily identify restaurants that are trustworthy. This
scheme is being representative and fair. Stringent rules are followed to handle application,
investigation, review, anonymous visit, and tourist complaints, etc. To be QTS-accredited, the
establishments must be qualified in terms of working environment, product, selling process,
employer, and operation. This scheme helps to enhance the quality of the services in restaurants,
and the tourists are also ensured the quality of the cuisines.
“The QTS Scheme is organized by the HKTB to help visitors find shops and restaurants
they can trust. This scheme certifies shops and restaurants that pass stringent annual
assessments showing that they: Provide genuine products with clearly displayed prices;
Display clearly product information and/or menus; and Ensure superb customer service
with front-line staff possessing extensive product knowledge so they can answer questions
efficiently.” (HKTB website – Gourmet Paradise: Dining Tips)
Culinary classes for international tourists
Through culinary classes, tourists can not only enjoy authentic cuisines, but also learn how to
cook them, and understand the local culture, so as to improve their culinary tourism experience. For
example, the STB puts emphasis on the culinary classes provided in culinary academies. These
classes provide tips on cooking not only characteristic Singapore cuisines, but also Asian, Middle
Eastern or European cuisines. STB also provides links to the websites of every culinary academy, so
the web surfers can further understand the contents of the classes and how to join them.
The experience of attending cooking school is special. We usually recommend this for
incentive tours (1-S-236). The tourists can learn and experience the preparation of exotic
Research for understanding food/gastronomy tourism market
It is very important to conduct market segmentation before promoting a product. HKTB
worked with famous marketing research companies to research the behavior of tourists visiting
Hong Kong, and the results were analyzed to develop more effective marketing strategies for each
market segment. STB also has similar regular researches to decide on marketing strategy
modifications. However, although these researches surely provide important information, what they
surveyed is the tourists’ overall experience, but not the culinary experience in particular.
HKTB has done more researches these years, both qualitative and quantitative ones. If we
find the most important segment, we can focus our resource for promotion and really get
to it (2-H-122). We also integrated the interview from Research Company, which is
universally applicable (2-H-125). Besides, we recruited students to assist the process of
doing daily surveys, so we can have enough effective samples (2-H-129).
From the above, we can see that in order to increase the values-added of culinary tourism, in
addition to using marketing tools and strategies, the destination still have to enhance the knowledge
base of culinary experience. With the help of professional agencies, academic organizations and
media, along with large-scale culinary activities, features of national and local cuisines can be
marketed internationally, increasing the values-added of culinary tourism.
This study aims to examine the relationship between food and tourism development strategies
in Hong Kong and Singapore, to understand the marketing strategies and contents of culinary
tourism of these two places, and to analyze the framework for marketing strategies of developing
culinary tourism from RBT perspective. The result shows that although Hong Kong and Singapore
do not have abundant natural resources to develop more diverse tourism experiences, they do have a
diverse food and culture background, and with the combination of tourism and creativity, they can
forge a culinary tourism which is innovative, diverse, and eye-catching. At the same time, different
marketing packages can also attract tourists and present the images of culinary culture. Besides, the
strategic alliance between public and private sectors, no matter in holding international culinary
events or maintaining culinary quality, is an important factor in promoting culinary tourism
marketing strategy. It can build up people’s consensus to work together for the development of
tourism, and to enhance international competitiveness in tourism. Therefore, the goal of culinary
tourism marketing strategy is not only to attract more people to visit the destination to enjoy the
food and experience the local culture in person. More importantly, it is to make good use of the
country’s internal and external resources and abilities to increase the competitive advantage and
economic effect of culinary tourism.
If any destination want to increase their tourism products’ value-added and market identity, it
is essential to build up a brand image. Therefore, DMOs should develop identities for the
destination brands (Pike, 2005). In this process, the knowledge concerning food culture is not only
an asset which can sell, but also a connection between the destination and the cultural food products.
When food and the destination are successfully linked, there will be an ideal brand image for
culinary tourism, and the food culture that combines local food and destination will become an
effective and profitable marketing asset (Tellström, Gustafasson, & Mossberg, 2006). In other
words, when forming the brand attraction of culinary tourism, the destination should find food
products that are representative and popular, integrating the context of the destination’s culinary
culture as the background, and then promote this culinary culture in tourism. For example, with
multiple culinary cultures as the main attraction, the STB formulates the brand “Singapore: the
Food Capital of Asia” to represent the variety of Singapore cuisines, while Hong Kong has the
brand “Asian Gourmet Paradise” by its international cuisines.
Behind the values-added of the brand image, an important effect of tourism quality assurance
is to ease tourists’ worry when visiting the destination. Restaurants, presenting the special flavor of
local cuisines, have always been an important element of local culinary cultural tourism, and if the
government can recommend restaurants of special local features, it will immediately boost the
performance of local tourism. Therefore, the quality of food, beverage, and service in restaurants
must be emphasized to make tourists more satisfied with the culinary tourism. For this reason, it is
the best marketing strategy for the government to set culinary accreditation standards. For example,
STB has set related policies to enhance local culinary qualities, and HKTB has the QTS to protect
the consumers’ right.
In addition, food event/festivals are not only a resource for culinary tourism, but also ways to
increase the visibility of the destination in terms of its culinary image, and to bring more
participation of the community (Quan & Wang, 2004). At the same time, the marketing strategies of
large-scale international food festivals will directly affect the domestic and international tourism
market (Henderson, 2004). Therefore, the marketing strategies of food event/festivals are crucial.
They must demonstrate the characteristics of local food and local life, and also promote local food
products. For example, STB has annual Singapore Food Festival and WGS, while Hong Kong has
Best of the Best Culinary Awards.
In addition, food event/festivals provide an ideal promotion platform for tourism and food and
beverage industry, which in the end benefits the whole tourism. With the understanding of tourists’
expectations, the government can formulate marketing strategies better. Therefore, HKTB conducts
daily researches on the visitors to Hong Kong to understand the different needs of different market
segments, so it can further promote different products and design different brochures, with different
resources and directions. The knowledge base behind all these is from the daily tourist research
conducted at the airport. With large samplings, HKTB analyzes its marketing targets and resource
allocation, so as to improve the efficacy of the marketing resources.
Overall, Hong Kong and Singapore have made good use of the interacting relationship among
their cuisines, culture and tourism. And they build up successful cooperation among the public
sectors, private sectors, and their people. As a result, they both innovatively developed their
marketing strategies to expand their culinary tourism market. Also, both of them are going to
educate more professionals in hotel and restaurant industry, so as to improve the quality of culinary
tourism, provide diverse and culture-embedded local cuisines for tourists, and successfully create a
national culinary image. Last, in addition to its practical value, this study also adopted RBT
perspective to analyze the tourism resources and strategies. This can be an important contribution to
the study of tourism.
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