As tourism continues to see a comeback in a post-2020 world, we are observing a variety of reactions and success stories. While we know things are returning, we wanted to dive into a more niche market than just “tourism” at large. The food tours industry continues to be a growing sector and a perfect sample size for us to observe our overall industry’s recovery.
We were able to speak with two operators about their return and get some perspective on how they are feeling, each with their own unique journeys through the pandemic and thoughts on the upcoming season.
Cruise ships and the mystique of Alaska
Midgi Moore owns Juneau Food Tours located in Juneau, Alaska. After a few years in operation and netting her best season yet during the summer or 2019. “We were shell shocked and, perhaps moreso, what is my community going to do? Our next question was, how do I help my community.”
With this attitude Midgi was able to pivot into selling subscription food boxes filled with goods from former stops on her tour. These boxes helped patch together the summers of 2020 and 2021 which were marred with the loss of nearly every cruise ship that was scheduled to arrive.
Midgi remains optimistic for the future and is anticipating a season on par with summer 2019. She has hired 12 guides as cruise ship numbers come back, which for Juneau is a clear sign of an exciting summer ahead. “We all succeed in our own ways. We pulled together for each other. We all worked together to keep all of us going. It was the most wonderful thing.”
Things aren’t going slow in SLO
Angee Johnson of Taste of SLO Walking Food Tour has a more hesitant outlook. In March of 2020, she was forced to shutter her doors, however when she got the greenlight to open again a few months later she was busy. “I couldn't believe how busy I was. For the most part people wanted to go out and do fun things.” That energy continued in 2021, but 2022 is proving to be a little different so far.
“2021 had great sales volumes, and I thought it was going to carry through this year too but I don't know. In February we had our highest sales month since our inception, but this month? Hardly any reservations. The world is an uncertain place right now.” Angee went on to say that she felt as though guests would be making more last minute reservations in light of the recent petrol prices and the conflict in Ukraine.
Angee remains optimistic and has even expanded her tour offerings from two to three and is bringing on new staff. By taking advantage of the downtime that was provided by the pandemic, Angee is hoping to capture a larger portion of the market and attract new clients to the joys of a food experience while on holiday.
What is to come?
We certainly have no idea, but what we do know is that culinary tours will be there. Food tour operators have a distinct sense of community, each caring about one another across the globe. Midgi said it best, “We all succeeded in our own ways. We pulled together for each other and we all worked together to keep everyone going. It was the most wonderful thing.” We couldn’t agree more.