„Taste the culture“ – Experiencing regional and sustainable food culture in holiday hotels
Berlin, June 2017 – „What’s on the menu today?“ – Not only one of the most important questions at home but also when you are on vacation. This is also true for many tourists that spend their holiday in the Aegean Region which is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Turkey. Most of the tourists are highly interested in the Turkish culture, Turkish lifestyle and a healthy way of live. And of course, in the Turkish cuisine. “For nearly 40 percent of the holiday-makers, sustainable food is important and 60% of the German travelers approve of a regional cuisine. However, most tourism providers do not consider sustainable meals as a competitive advantage – there is still a lot of potential.”, explains Songül Göktas-Rosati, managing director at ÖGER-TOURS.
Travel expert for Turkey ÖGER TOURS and the sustainability initiative of the German tourism industry Futouris join forces in a project that reflects the need for authentic, regional cuisine as well as healthy and sustainably produced food. Within the project “Taste the Culture”, sustainable food is introduced in hotels located in the Aegean region in Turkey. The project includes staff training in selected hotels and communication measurement for the hotel guests. The aim is to establish sustainable food principles in popular holiday destinations to contribute to climate protection and to strengthen regional, often traditional, food producers. Further, it is the aim to promote regional food preparation based on traditional recipes so that guests can experience the food culture in the region.
Many hoteliers already purchase local foods, to some extent even from local producers. However, this regional cooperation between agricultural producers and buyers in the hotel industry can be further strengthened. What is more: The concept of organic food is by and large unknown in Turkish hotels. To this end, there is a high potential for promoting the processing of these foods.
“Taste the Culture” has two project phases
In the first phase, hotel employees are trained about purchasing, storing and processing ecologically and sustainably produced food. These trainings are based on the Sustainable Food Manual. One training module involves, among others, that employees visit an eco-farm (Degirmen farm in Davutlar) that is managed by project partner Gürsel Tonbul. She is one of the most famous Turkish producers of organic food. As an expert for organic agriculture and regional purchasing, she carries out the training and shares her first-hand experience with the participants. In a common effort, she and the participants develop ideas of how to implement measurements in the individual businesses and elaborate sustainable menus based on traditional and regional recipes for the individual food offer.
In the second phase, the aim is to present and communicate the sustainable offer. Sustainable food is enjoyable and pleasant and even more so if you are actively provided with information on what you are eating. Consequently, the second focus of the project lies on developing and improving presentation and communication methods to provide a more comprehensive food experience. To achieve this objective, corresponding method, activities and materials are tested, including signs at the buffet, cooking classes and digital approaches. The project partners draw on guest and staff feedback to further improve the measures. The implementation of the project is carried out in close cooperation with the branch pilot project “Sustainable Food – Guest communication” which is run by Prof. Dr. Dagmar Lund-Durlacher und her team from MODUL University Vienna.
The initial project participants are seven hotels in the Kusadasi region, including hotels belonging to Paloma Hotels like the recently refurbished Club Mary by Paloma in Özdere. The training material and the project results will then be prepared in a way that interested hotelier can use them – throughout Turkey and worldwide.
The awareness for the benefits of sustainable food will be enhanced and the participants will become advocates for sustainable buffets in hotels.