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Food waste in tourist households: a perspective article

Ulrike Gretzel (School for Communication and Journalism, the University of Southern California Annenberg, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Jamie Murphy (University of Eastern Finland Joensuu Campus, Joensuu, Finland)
Juho Pesonen (Centre for Tourism Studies, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland)
Casey Blanton (Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 9 October 2019

Issue publication date: 20 February 2020




This paper aims to provide a perspective on food waste by tourists and tourist households, now and in the future.


This is a perspective article that summarizes contemporary thinking about food waste and conceptualizes food waste specifically for tourist household settings.


In tourism, food is more than nourishment and extends to visitor experiences and attractions. Yet food waste arising from tourism activity is a major environmental and societal issue. Festive moods and holiday spirits – synonymous with over-sized portions, bountiful buffets and entertainment excess – exacerbate food waste. Cultural norms that portray food waste as a sign of good hospitality further aggravate the problem. This paper argues that efforts to reduce food waste in tourism require new conceptualizations of tourist households, and where food waste occurs in relation to tourism, and of who should be responsible for preventing and managing food waste.

Research limitations/implications

The tourism industry faces ever-growing economical, societal and legislative reasons to address food waste, which are dynamic and difficult to predict.

Practical implications

Savvy meal providers will migrate towards reducing their food waste or turning it into assets. However, a focus on preventing food waste only in traditional food service and accommodation establishments ignores the reality of growing tourist households and will stifle sustainability efforts unless theoretically unpacked and practically addressed.

Social implications

A third of food produced globally is lost or wasted. Stark facts, proclamations and regulations underscore food waste as a burgeoning global problem with major environmental, social and economic costs.


Food waste, in general, and by tourists, is a burgeoning environmental, social and economic challenge. This is one of the first articles to focus on this topic and introduces the concept of tourist households.



Gretzel, U., Murphy, J., Pesonen, J. and Blanton, C. (2020), "Food waste in tourist households: a perspective article", Tourism Review, Vol. 75 No. 1, pp. 235-238.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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