Exploring the Potential of Street Food As a Sustainable Livelihood Tourism Strategy for Developing Destinations
Yallop, A; Pilato, M; Seraphin, H
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The fastest growing trend for international travel has been for travel to Less Developed Countries (LDC) and emerging destinations (Holden, 2013). Seraphin, Ambaye, Gowreesunkar and Bonnardel (2016) suggest that tourism is central in the strategic efforts for economic development of LDCs despite the fact that such destinations struggle to establish themselves as tourist destinations. Since the 1980s there has been a growing recognition that tourism requires more equality among all participants which has led to alternative forms of tourism where less foreign capital and more local people, food and architecture are engaged (Crick, 1989). This research paper focuses on an activity involving local people and local food, namely street food. Street food is linked to alternative forms of tourism and places itself alongside authentic forms of tourism where people, culture and natural assets are central (Thomson, 2014; Wagner, 2015). This form of authenticity is what made Haiti one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean between the 1940s-1960s (Théodat, 2004). Taking the case of Haiti, this study evaluates the potential of street food as a factor of appeal and sustainable livelihood strategy for developing destinations. Drawing from literature on marketing research in tourism, sustainability, business ethics and entrepreneurship the study examines factors that influence the level and support of sustainable tourism development, specifically the potential of ethical and sustainable food (e.g. such as street food) to have a positive impact on destinations and their sustainable development. A destination is considered to be sustainable if the tourism industry does not impact negatively on the environment, on human-environment interactions and local communities; however, equally important, the industry needs to contribute to the cultural exchange between locals and visitors and it must meet the economic needs of the population (Mbaiwa, as cited in Iniesta-Bonnillo et al., 2016). This research paper proposes that street food corresponds to: (1) a tourist demand of authenticity; (2) does not impact negatively on locals’ culture but instead it is shared with visitors; (3) the vendors who, generally, are poor people benefit directly from this form of tourism related activity; (4) it represents an add-on activity that is promoted by Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs), and it is not the main reason why people visit the destination, therefore, it will not impact on the carrying capacity of the destination; and, finally, (5) street food is part of the way of life of local communities; within this context, street food is seen as a ‘related tourism activity’ and not as a form of tourism. The main argument of this paper is that related tourism activities that are components of the locals’ daily lives represent one of the most sustainable tourism activities. Avenues for further research into street food, sustainable tourism strategies and ethical business practices are also considered.