Tourism and Service Management

Sustainable Food in the Travel Context

Food sustains life; without food, humans cannot survive. It is, therefore, important for our future to protect the natural resources that supply food. However, what people eat not only matters for individuals and their environment, but for the economy and society in general. Maintaining global food supplies is also a major issue when it comes to sustainability. One reason is the constantly and rapidly growing demand for food in a world whose population is expected to grow to over 9 billion people by 2050. At the same time, food producers around the world often do not get a fair share of global food trade and in many instances work under poor conditions. Additional pressure arises from the greenhouse-gas emissions caused by food production, which play a crucial role in climate change. Furthermore, the health aspect of food is a major concern, especially in modern societies. Finally, rapid socio-cultural changes in many countries raise the question of the protection of food cultures and traditions.

At the same time, food is an important component of a holiday. For hotels and cruise ships, good food has the potential to become a competitive advantage while bad food can damage a hotel’s or cruise ship’s reputation for years. This is why it is of great importance for tourism businesses to manage food in a sustainable way. Food consumption is seen by most tourists as an important part of their trips and tourism often takes place in ecologically, socially and culturally sensitive destinations. Through food consumption, it is not only possible to support your health and well-being while on holiday, but also to interact directly with the ecological, social and cultural resources of a destination. At the same time, unsustainable food consumption has the potential to cause harm for tourists, local inhabitants, and destinations in general. Overuse of scarce resources, excessive food waste and poor labour conditions are some examples of areas where touristic food consumption has negative consequences for a destination. Understanding and managing food in a holistic, sustainable way is therefore one key for the future success of tourism businesses around the world.

Against this background, the project team led by Prof. Dagmar Lund-Durlacher conducted a grounding study Sustainable Food in the Travel context and two follow-up projects, Sustainable Food Communication and Taste the Culture. Please click on the links to get detailed information. Supplemental material is available for download free of charge (see download section).

ITB project presentation

Sustainable food is a social phenomenon of increasing popularity. Is it also a concern while on holidays? What exactly does ‘’sustainable food’’ mean? The main goal of the project was to develop a deeper understanding on what is actually comprehended by the concept of sustainable food, and what holidaymakers really think about sustainable food consumption while travelling. Furthermore, the researchers also wanted to explore how tourism businesses are working on the implementation of sustainable food policies. The results were also summarized in a how-to manual for tourism providers who want to offer sustainable food and drinks.

For more information on the project, please see the final project report (in German) or its summary in English. You can also download the how-to manual for tourism providers in English and in German.


Project leader: Dagmar Lund-Durlacher
Period: August 2015 – March 2016
Collaboration: Klaus Fritz, FH Wien der Wirtschaftskammer Wien, Dietmar Kepplinger, Kondeor, Hannes Antonschmidt, MODUL University Vienna
Contractor: Futouris e.V., Germany