Lola’s Publications

Wiarco, D. (2013). Culinary tourism in Mexico: small business perspectives (master’s thesis).

Abstract:
This exploratory study was designed to help provide an understanding of Mexico’s culinary tourism industry. A review of current literature offers context regarding culinary tourism and the ways it is emerging in various regions. Field research was focused on small businesses operating within Mexico. All data was collected through a combined approach that included participant observation, semi-structured personal interviews with five small business owners, and surveys that were distributed to their clients. All of the business owners in the study operated cooking schools in the southern state of Oaxaca.

The findings present information on each instructor’s background, the successes, areas for improvement, and challenges of operating within Oaxaca’s culinary tourism sector. They also highlight various components of the marketing mix. Interviews revealed that instructors differed in their educational, personal, and professional backgrounds and their reasons for starting a business in this industry were all distinct. Self-identified business strengths ranged from personalized attention offered in class, to the market tour experiences at each school. Common challenges included communication barriers, skill and time constraints, and fluctuations in tourism. Student surveys presented demographic profiles and feedback on satisfaction levels as well as perceptions of the cooking classes. Results revealed that the majority of students who participated in the survey were female, college educated, relatively well-off, and from the United States. Overall satisfaction levels with the five cooking schools were generally positive and students indicated that they enjoyed learning about regional specialties and traditional cooking methods as well as meeting new people.

The study contributes to an area of research that has generated relatively little on the topic of culinary tourism and provides practical insights for small business owners, practitioners, and destination marketers.

To request a full-text PDF version of this thesis, please email info@lolascocina.com.

Wiarco Dweck, D. & Sasidharan, V. (2013). Regional insights of culinary tourism in Mexico: cooking schools in Oaxaca. International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism.

Abstract:
Culinary tourism is now considered to be one of the fastest growing subsets of travel in Mexico. With increased competition among tourist destinations, local food culture is a valuable asset that can be used to attract niche culinary tourists. Both Mexican tourism officials and businesses are in a unique position to design and create food culture-based experiences that appeal to tourists and promote Oaxaca, Mexico, as a culinary destination. Although some research exists on Mexico’s food and its tourism industries, few studies relate the two. This study makes an important contribution to a limited body of literature on culinary tourism as it relates to Oaxacan cooking schools that operate within the industry in Mexico. The mixed-methods approach provided evidence-based insights into the experiences of small business owners. All data was collected through a combination of participant observation, semi-structured personal interviews with five cooking school operators, and surveys that were distributed to their clients. Findings revealed that business strengths ranged from personalized attention offered in class, to the market tour experiences at each school. Challenges included communication barriers, skill and time constraints, and fluctuations in tourism. The majority of cooking class students were female, college educated, relatively well-off, and from the United States. Overall satisfaction levels with the five cooking schools were generally positive. Aside from contributing to a topic that has generated relatively modest amounts of literature, the study provides empirical product development and implementation insights for cooking instructors, destination marketers, and small business owners who seek to provide a unique culinary experience and attract tourists.

To request a full-text PDF version of this article, please email info@lolascocina.com.

Key Words:
culinary tourism, cooking schools, Oaxaca, Mexico, food culture

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