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Future-proofing the Success of Food Festivals through Determining the Drivers of Change: A Case Study of Wellington on a Plate

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In parallel with the growth and popularity of food tourism, the increase in food specific events and festivals has been significant. Events have become an important element of the experience economy; often their economic and social benefits have been related to improvements in the quality of life for communities and regions. Food festivals provide an opportunity for event goers to socialize, as by their nature they bring people together. However, how do we future proof the success of such events? Adopting a practice theory position and a pragmatism paradigm, this paper investigates the future of food festivals using a case study of Wellington on a Plate (WOAP), which is New Zealand’s most successful food festival, operated by the Wellington Culinary Events Trust (WCET). In line with scenario planning research methods, 12 ‘remarkable persons’ were interviewed to identify 22 mega- drivers of change, including mobility, redefining luxury, technological immersion, social capital, social demography changes, and accessibility. Adapting Yeoman’s (2015) conceptual framework of food tourism drivers for food festivals and linking to these mega-drivers of change, a conceptual framework was derived that considers five factors of success, namely Food Festivals as Political Capital; Food Festivals as a Visionary State; Sense of Community; The Drive for Affluence and Exclusivity; and Fluid Identity and Foodies. The development of this conceptual framework, which links success to the external environment, contributes to the future-proofing of food festivals.
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Keywords: Food tourism; futures studies; festival; pragmatism; future-proofing

Affiliations: 1: School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington 2: Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ulster University, Belfast, UK 3: Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand 4: School of Hospitality and Tourism, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ 5: Tourism Department, Saint Paul Institute, Sangkat Dangkor, Khan Dangkor, Cambodia 6: Department of Tourism, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Appeared or available online: January 1, 2021

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