Exploring the food tourism landscape and sustainable economic development goals in Dhofar Governorate, Oman

Debra J. Enzenbacher (Department of Tourism, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 15 May 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This exploratory research opens a new avenue of tourism destination enquiry for Dhofar Governorate, Oman. It examines the relationship between the food tourism landscape in the country’s southernmost region and the Government’s stated economic development goals. Tourism is a new industry here and in need of sustainable development. The purpose of this paper is to identify how the natural and human resources of the region may be harnessed to expand food tourism pathways and achieve sustainable economic development e.g. maximising stakeholder benefits.

Design/methodology/approach

The literature review highlights many new developments in food tourism for this baseline study. Qualitative and quantitative (i.e. mixed) methods are used including a case study, a pilot survey of key Government stakeholders in Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, food factory tours and interviews with their executives in Dhofar, direct and participant observation at food establishments and events, visits to popular roadside and market food stalls in Salalah and tourism trend analysis.

Findings

Some recent trends in food tourism elsewhere may be adapted in Salalah and spark interest in the food culture and heritage of Dhofar. This, in turn, may bring multiple benefits to the destination’s stakeholders. The governorate’s environment yields a rich variety of agricultural and other food products that may be used to provide new forms of food tourism and increase the region’s appeal to tourists beyond the Khareef season. Further possible benefits include safeguarding local food knowledge, production, culture and heritage, developing SMEs, creating new jobs and increasing visitor stay and spend.

Research limitations/implications

The study is conducted solely in English, whereas Arabic is the mother tongue in Oman. Dhofar is the country’s largest governorate occupying a vast area, not all of which is covered by the study. More data are needed to inform tourism development, policymaking and planning in Dhofar.

Practical implications

Improving tourism’s sustainability profile, creating successful food tourism products and services and achieving Dhofar’s economic development goals require concerted effort. All are in the best interest of the tourism stakeholders concerned.

Social implications

This paper provides a foundation for future research on this topic. It highlights the importance of placing food tourism development on a sustainable footing to protect and preserve Dhofar’s unique food culture, heritage, traditions and environment, extend the main tourism season and maximise benefits to stakeholders.

Originality/value

Recent trends in food tourism are investigated to gauge their applicability in this dynamic region of Oman. Ideas are presented demonstrating possible food tourism pathways to sustainable economic development that benefit a wide range of stakeholders e.g. food tours, food factory tours and shops, food festivals and cookery-school holidays and/or classes.

Keywords

Citation

Enzenbacher, D. (2019), "Exploring the food tourism landscape and sustainable economic development goals in Dhofar Governorate, Oman", British Food Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2018-0613

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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