The term “gastrodiplomacy” refers to concerted and sustained campaigns of public relations and investment by governments and states, often in collaboration with non-state actors, to increase the value and standing of their nation brand through food. Food is used to pursue diplomatic aims in government-to-public diplomacy (Rockower, 2012).
Gastrodiplomacy builds on food as a common dimension of the lives and cultures of all people. It can be considered a “tender-minded” type of public diplomacy, in that it does not exert influence by advocating directly, but rather more obliquely by striking emotional connections. (Read more)
Food has historically linked people across cultural and geographical distances and divides, going back to the ancient trade routes based on goods such as spices, coffee and sugar. Tourism is another phenomenon that links peoples and nations, playing a role in the building of national identity.
In a recent article, I defined gastrodiplomacy in tourism as the realm of policies and practices by which both states and non-state actors seek to engender positive associations with a national brand among foreign publics, using the channels through which tourists or potential tourists come into contact with the national cuisine.
This is understood in terms of creating positive experiences around the national culinary brand to motivate travel to the country, as well as in terms of creating positive experiences of the national culinary brand during tourists’ travel to the country.
In gastrodiplomacy in tourism, diplomacy, food, and tourism are intertwined in creating and sustaining a national brand, such that each of these dimensions can only be appreciated and understood in view of its relationship with the other two. For example: gastrodiplomacy campaigns [diplomacy] contribute to establishment and cuisine quality control of ethnic restaurants abroad [food], encouraging positive associations among patrons [diplomacy], which motivate travel to the country [tourism], where tourists patronize restaurants and other culinary sites [food], at which they gain a deeper knowledge and engagement with the culture [diplomacy], spurring repeat visits to ethnic restaurants abroad [food] and the nation itself [tourism]. This cycle contributes to Nye’s (2004) third dimension of public diplomacy, “developing relations in the long term” [diplomacy].