Exploring linkages between food, well-being and sustainable tourism

Food, Well-being and Wellness Tourism were at the centre of a public seminar organised in Kuopio, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2020-2021 on 11 September, in the framework of the 7th Annual IGCAT Experts’ Meeting.

The event was virtually joined by experts from all over the world who shared views on how to respond to changing consumer behaviour, the increasing inclination of citizens towards healthier food and lifestyles, as well as visitors’ search for sustainable and creative food and wellness experiences that contribute to well-being.

Sustainable eating and food consumption now and in the future was the focus of Prof. Mari Niva (University of Helsinki) who highlighted how in the last years consumer behaviour has been shifting towards more sustainable and healthier diets, pointing out that more environmentally-friendly agricultural methods have been developed. However, she also remarked the urgent need for more comprehensive changes in food policy.

In his presentation on Growth in wellness and gastronomy travel: Setting the context, IGCAT Expert, László Puczkó from Health Tourism Worldwide (Hungary) demonstrated the existing connections between wellness and gastronomy travelling, showing how current trends in health can influence tourist behaviour at the destination.

Prof. Marjukka Kolehmainen (University of Eastern Finland) spoke about Food trends: good for wellbeing or only good business?, stressing the need to increase consumers’ knowledge about ingredients and nutritional facts and explaining how healthy food choices can contribute to the happiness of consumers.

In his presentation Arts Education and wellness, author and IGCAT Expert, Paul Schafer (Canada) called for a more prominent role of culture and creativity in society, highlighting how the arts in a broad sense (including for example, gastronomy, crafts, cinema, photography, etc.) can help tackle current global challenges such as environmental crises and conflicts.

Jury Wuorisalo (Human Security Finland) addressed the issue of Human Security and sustainable food production, emphasising how the protection and empowerment of people and communities are crucial to ensure food security and sustainable food systems that are resilient to current climate threats.

IGCAT’s President, Diane Dodd, PhD closed the seminar by adding conclusions from IGCAT webinar on Food, Well-being and Wellness Tourism in the Regions of Gastronomy (10 September) whereby she reported how regions can encourage responsible tourism and support local businesses by developing high-quality visitor experiences that combine nature, culture, creativity, storytelling and good food. Also, she highlighted how the World Regions of Gastronomy Platform, with its shared values on protecting and promoting cultural and food diversity as well as sustainability, offers unmissable opportunities for brand-awareness and cross-marketing.

The public seminar on Food, Well-being and Wellness Tourism was organised by IGCATProAgria East Finland and Savonia University of Applied Sciences, and supported by the European Social Fund and the Leverage from the EU 2014-2020 programme.

A full recording of the Public Seminar: Food, gastronomy and wellbeing – European Region of Gastronomy Kuopio 2020-2021 is available on YouTube.

About the World Regions of Gastronomy Platform   

Candidate and awarded World Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to raise awareness about the importance of their cultural and food uniqueness; stimulate creativity and gastronomic innovation; educate for better nutrition; improve sustainable tourism standards; highlight distinctive food cultures; and strengthen community well-being.


IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance to safeguard and promote distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets. This is essential to balance against globalised food trends that are impacting on our planet, health and local economies.

IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.

IGCAT provides the Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the World Regions of Gastronomy Platform. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the Young Chef Award, the Local Food Gift Challenge, the Top Visitor Experience and the Food Film Menu.