Future-proofing the Success of Food Festivals through Determining the Drivers of Change: A Case Study of Wellington on a Plate

Ian Yeoman, U McMahon-Beattie,, K Findlay, Sandra Goh, Sophea Tieng, Sochea Nhem

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In parallel with the growth and popularity of food tourism, the increase in food specific events and festivals has been significant. Events have become an important element of the experience economy; often their economic and social benefits have been related to improvements in the quality of life for communities and regions. Food festivals provide an opportunity for event goers to socialize as by their nature they bring people together. However, how do we future proof the success of such events? Adopting a practice theory position and a pragmatism paradigm, this paper investigates the future of food festivals using a case study of Wellington on A Plate (WOAP), which is New Zealand’s most successful food festival, operated by the Wellington Culinary Events Trust (WCET). In line with scenario planning research methods, twelve ‘remarkable persons’ were interviewed to identify twenty-two mega drivers of change including mobility, redefining luxury, technological immersion, social capital, social demography changes, and accessibility. Adapting Yeoman’s (2015) conceptual framework of food tourism drivers for food festivals and linking to these mega drivers of change, a conceptual framework was derived that considers five factors of success, namely Food Festivals as Political Capital; Food Festivals as a Visionary State; Sense of Community; The Drive for Affluence and Exclusivity; and Fluid Identity and Foodies. The development of this conceptual framework, that links success to the external environment, contributes to the future-proofing of food festivals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-193
Number of pages27
JournalTourism Analysis
Issue number2-3
Early online date1 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 14 Apr 2021


  • Festival
  • Food tourism
  • Future proofing
  • Futures studies
  • Pragmatism


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