Madrid Fusión Manila or How Gastronomy Is Key to Creating a Tourist Brand

Madrid Fusión Manila or How Gastronomy Is Key to Creating a Tourist Brand

Culinary tourism is booming and moves millions of tourists around the world. Only in Spain, in 2015, more than 7 million tourists visited our country to carry out activities related to gastronomy (1 in 10). The offer is diverse, from visiting local farms or producers to strolling through traditional markets or eating in Michelin-starred restaurants. Gastronomic tourism is made for everyone and for every taste.

About to hold the 3rd edition of Madrid Fusion Manila (6-8 April), under the motto “Towards a Sustainable Gastronomic Planet”, we chatted with Lourdes Plana, director of Madrid Fusión, about how this idea of ​​exporting this reputed brand in the gastronomic field to the Philippines worked and how she sees the future of this event.

Madrid Fusion Manila 2016 closed with great numbers, which make us glimpse the importance of gastronomy around the world: 224 stands, the participation of 100 companies and 1,436 delegates from 17 different countries and more than 8,500 visitors. Over 95% of the delegates stated that the topics discussed at the congress had been relevant to the development of their careers, while almost 98% admitted that they had learned new culinary techniques.


Presentacion MadridFusionManila 2017 002

Lourdes Plana, Madrid Fusion director, introducing the 2017 edition

How does the idea of ​​exporting the Madrid Fusion brand to Manila arise?

The idea comes from Margarita Fores, renowned Filipino chef named Asia’s best cook in 2016. She is restless, and for years she has been a congresswoman at Madrid Fusion. It was she who convinced the former Minister of Tourism of the Philippines Department of Tourism that it would be very good for this country to have an international event to support tourism promotion through gastronomy, since for Filipinos the traditions and culinary customs are also very important for their culture. This was how the Philippines Tourism Department contacted Madrid Fusion

What was your reaction?

The first news we had were through the office of Turespaña. We were informed that the Philippines Department of Tourism was interested in receiving information from Madrid Fusión. Madrid Fusion already had previous experience in events outside of Spain: 4 years in Mexico in Madrid Mex Fusion, New York and Tokyo … We sent them the information and later they called us to tell us that they wanted to have a conversation in person to talk about the project.

Is gastronomy a way to tie tourism? What is the symbiosis between the two?

The inhabitants of the First World eat at least two or three times a day and, wherever you are, you have to eat. If this also induces enjoyment and if, in addition, when you are on tour you can see wonderful things and eat fantastically, the day is much better. Gastronomic tourism is increasingly booming because people have realized that eating is paramount, but it can also be pleasant; this is why this type of tourism escalates, because gastronomy has become a culture and is a way of knowing the heritage and traditions of other countries. In Spain the figures are growing progressively; in fact, according to data collected by the survey of travelers from the Spanish Ministry of Tourism, infrastructures and gastronomy are the two most valued aspects of the destination. For tourists, gastronomy is an added value that Spain has used very well for its tourism promotion, why cannot the Philippines do the same?

After several editions of Madrid Fusion Manila, has the synergy between the two countries increased in terms of gastronomy?

We have managed to put the Philippines on the world gastronomic map. In the first edition, they recognized the achievements of Margarita Fores as the first female cook in Asia; before that, the relevance and role of female chefs in Asia was not even known. It has also been very important the entrance of the restaurant Vask Gallery in The 50 Best, a list where a Filipino cuisine had never before been. Suddenly, people talk about kinilaw and calamansi, typical dishes of Filipino cuisine, a conversation that generates curiosity to know this country, and not only at the gastronomic level. I feel that we are talking about the Philippines more and more, among other things, thanks to the contribution we have made: we have taken many chefs throughout these three years to the Philippines, who, when they return to Spain, send their cooks, make friends there, exchange information; we also bring culinary media that speak about the country, we generate curiosity and concern about what the Philippines can offer.

Has there also been a benefit for Madrid Fusión?

Above all, knowledge and research on other countries. We welcome the internationalization of our event, it is very positive for us to internationalize the brand. But obviously, Manila benefits from being associated with a brand as recognized in the world of gastronomy as Madrid Fusion.

What would you highlight about the Filipino cuisine?

Among all Asian cuisines, the Filipino one is the most comfortable for Spaniards. There are great roots in the Spanish gastronomy; their national dishes are paella, marinade, flan, turrón… all of them Spanish. It is the Asian country most gastronomically similar to us. They have a natural gift for the balance of spices, for the seasoning, they like to eat and they have a special gift for cooking, very balanced. I really like kinilaw (a fish dish similar to ceviche), sinigang (a typical fish stew in the country), paksiw (a Filipino variation of the vinaigrette)…

From your perspective, what kind of future do you think has the Filipino cuisine?

Philippine society is constantly evolving with enormous economic development. These changes are present and are obvious every time I visit Manila and that is reflected at all levels, there are more shops and of course more restaurants, not only local but also of international cuisines. They are learning techniques to lighten their own gastronomy, they are finding themselves again. They no longer make only French dishes, but take ideas from other countries and reinvent their own food to make it modern. That is a fantastic evolution that has just started.

After Manila, have you considered another destination to export the brand?

Everything is possible; the next destination has to give us much confidence, to be very clear. We do not want to run adventures or risks.


By the PR Team at Interface Tourism Spain

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