Cultural Sustainability and Rural Food Tourism in Two Canadian Wine Regions

Robinson, Danielle Maria
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University of Guelph

This interdisciplinary research analyses the relationships between cultural sustainability and food tourism by asking how rural tourism stakeholders understand these concepts, mobilize the interrelationships, and to what purpose. Researchers concerned with the complex, interrelated, and multi-scalar relationships between culture and rural tourism development have explored both positive and negative dimensions in diverse contexts; however, more systematic attention to the concept of cultural sustainability is needed to design supportive rural tourism policies and processes. Wine and food tourism is one of the fastest growing rural tourism niches and intersects with critical cultural sustainability issues such as local food systems, food sovereignty, and agricultural land use, therefore, it is particularly important to explore cultural sustainability in food and wine tourism environments. Comparative case studies in two Canadian wine regions, British Columbia's South Okanagan Valley and Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley, are used to gain a better understanding of the relationships between local food cultures, rural tourism development, and sustainability in different provincial settings with a particular emphasis on the role of related public policy, planning and governance. As this research aims to understand rural food tourism’s potential contribution to cultural sustainability, an appreciative approach was used. Secondary research, semi-structured interviews, and tourism strategic plans provide insights into how culturally sustainable food and wine tourism is conceptualized, recognized, developed, supported, and promoted in each case. Findings are discussed in relation to Soini and Dessein’s (2016) framework for culture in, for, and as sustainability. Three central recommendations are proposed: explicitly engaging with the idea and implications of local, exploring transformative potential, and future research that takes comparative, appreciative and reflective approaches.

rural tourism, wine tourism, Annapolis Valley, Okanagan, cultural sustainability, tourism policy and planning, transformational tourism, appreciative inquiry, food tourism, agritourism