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Eat, work, love: alternative tourists’ connection with ethnic food

Rosmini Omar (Azman Hashim International Business School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia) (Helsinki School of Business, Helsinki, Finland)
Obed Rashdi Syed (Azman Hashim International Business School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia)
Binyao Ning (Azman Hashim International Business School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia) (Department of Economics and Management, Shaoguan University, Shaoguan, China)
Stefanos Vagenas (Research Innovation Development Lab, Athens, Greece)
Faizan Ali (College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership, University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee, North Sarasota, Florida, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 30 July 2019

Issue publication date: 22 May 2020




Ethnic food is a pivotal polysemic artifact, yet commonly studied based on experience. This leaves an eclipse in understanding its overall significance and implications. The purpose of this paper is to explore the interactions of experience, intimacy and embodiment from the lens of alternative tourism and Asia as a destination image.


The authors conducted four focus group that include Asians who take experiential learning trips and spiritual journeys across Asia-Pacific.


Alternative tourists promote the growth of ethnic foodies who value impact which they determine as quality food-scape, longitudinal caring interactions with and the constant assurance of consuming food which are safe and healthy to their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Research limitations/implications

Although our research does not employ any quantitative technique and devoid of inferential analysis, the rich qualitative data offer insights for further work that benefit ethnic food industry.

Practical implications

Industry and policy makers are encouraged to generate contextual solutions for management of the ethnic food industry. Ethnic food consumption may flourish if the industry leads its growth through a post-modernist approach.

Social implications

A broad perspective in growing the frontiers of ethnic food tourism beyond the landscape of an economic or consumerism-dominated approach would benefit the cross-mobility of quality talents and skills as this fosters cross-cultural literacy.


The authors develop the Ethnic Foodies Perspective-Ethnic Food Destination Image Matrix as a pathway to further motivate knowledge cross-fertilization in ethnic food tourism studies and leverage on the transdisciplinary science, innovation, socio- and sensuous geographic arena. A constellation of ethnic food innovation should link the economic side of exotic differentiation and heritage with food processing, safety and traceability.



This paper is initiated with the support of the project Erasmus+ Program Capacity Building for Higher Education of European Union [Reference No. 598987-EPP-1-2018-1-MY-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP- MSc in Food Processing and Innovation (FOODI)].


Omar, R., Syed, O.R., Ning, B., Vagenas, S. and Ali, F. (2020), "Eat, work, love: alternative tourists’ connection with ethnic food", British Food Journal, Vol. 122 No. 6, pp. 1999-2019.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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