Joining the “slow food movement” could be key to building successful, sustainable tourism according to a case study carried out by researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University.
The team from the University’s Department of Food and Tourism Management assessed people’s understanding of the Slow Food and Cittaslow movements in the Welsh town of Mold, and found that many of those who benefitted from tourism income believed there were advantages to being part of the movements.
The Slow Food and Cittaslow movements aim to help towns develop sustainably, maintaining their individual identities and promoting local businesses.
Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people, in over 150 countries, after being initially founded by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in Italy during the 1980s with the aim of defending regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life.
There are six towns with Cittaslow status in the UK, Mold, Aylsham, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Diss, Perth and Llangollen.
Despite some disparities in the level of understanding people had of the Slow Food and Cittaslow movements, the participants in the study carried out in Mold cited distinctiveness and marketing value as just two of the potential benefits for tourism.
One participant said: “The benefits are wide because it’s not just about food, it’s about a different cultural approach to things, which then empowers people at a local level.”
Another described Cittaslow membership as marking Mold out as “a centre of excellence for bringing the community together as a whole.”
Dr Jung said: “These days, more people are seeking authentic tourist experiences such as slow culture, slow life style and traditional and local food products, therefore, Cittaslow towns could attract unique tourists who are seeking authentic slow food experience and also slow travel experiences.”
The research team now plan to look at how the Slow Food and Cittaslow movements have contributed to the sustainable tourism development of the five other Cittaslow towns in the UK.