Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Tourism and Hospitality

First Advisor

Dr. Aisling Ward

Second Advisor

Dr. Margaret Linehan


Previous research proposes that food tourism is a medium through which traditions can be maintained, as well as a conduit through which authentic culture can be experienced (Fox, 2007; Henderson, 2014; Okumus et al, 2007). Food tourism is also advocated as a sustainable means of environmental, economic and sociocultural development (Everett and Aitchison, 2008; Montanari and Staniscia, 2009). The unique focus of this research study is the role food tourism plays in cultural sustainability in Ireland, specifically, in Kinsale, the English Market and Dingle. In particular, this study draws on the viewpoints of thirty three food tourism representatives on the front-line of the food tourism industry. Several new contributions into the manner in which food tourism impacts the development and sustainability of the chosen locations’ cultural traditions are offered.

Primarily, the empirical research conducted reveals that food tourism is allowing not only for the preservation and sustainability of cultural traditions but also their revival, through a combination of tradition and innovation, incorporating both multi- generational family businesses and those who are ‘newcomers’. Telling the story behind the food is also evidenced as playing a key role, not only in keeping food knowledge and heritage alive, but also in contributing to an understanding of local culture, providing a link to the source and in creating an overall memorable experience. Furthermore, the accessibility of local food produce is crucial in preserving the integrity of cultural traditions, with the local producer representing a vital element. A related significant finding highlights the role of food tourism in the locations’ employment sustainability, to which local culture, social connections and networks strongly contribute. New understandings into the concept of ‘authenticity’ in food tourism are also presented. Authenticity proves to be a contentious issue, in particular, regarding the manner in which the locations’ cultural traditions are being represented and sustained and on what constitutes an ‘authentic’ product.

Based on the in-depth interviews conducted, this study presents a new model depicting the interaction of the above elements and the role food tourism plays in developing and sustaining the cultural traditions of Kinsale, the English Market and Dingle. Finally, this study offers an insight into the views of the food tourism representatives whose families and local traditions, businesses and everyday living culture constitute the front-line of the food tourism industry.

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