St. Petersburg as a Tourist Destination: Searching for the Gastronomic Brand
In recent years there has been a significant growth of interest in regional gastronomic brands. In this chapter the authors analyse the structure, content and individual characteristics of the gastronomic industry as a key component of a regional tourism product. The apparent interest in this gastronomic component stems from tourists’ desire to obtain a deeper understanding of the specificities of the area they are visiting, and to diversify and intensify the impressions garnered on their trips.
The purpose of this chapter therefore is to discover if it is possible to create a gastronomic brand for a territory that lacks a pronounced local cuisine, and to define the foundations and the specific ways in which such a brand might be created. We take St. Petersburg, Russia, as a test case for considering the possible methods of gastronomic brand formation under the conditions of multiculturalism and the lack of a well-defined local cuisine.
Currently, the role of gastronomy in promoting St. Petersburg as a tourist destination is negligible. The search for a gastronomic brand is based on the underlying principles of place branding and recognition of the crucial role that branding plays in creating a tourist image of a territory. This search is also based on research concerning the gastronomic component of the tourist product and an analysis of the motivational factors underpinning gastronomic services targeted at tourists.
St. Petersburg is one of the largest tourist centres in Europe. Largely because of the world-famous cultural image of the city, the level of development and promotion of St. Petersburg’s entire branding as a tourist destination is considerably superior to a gastronomic brand alone. However, the image of a particular location cannot be considered to be complete without a gastronomic component. The effect of gastronomic branding as an instrument to promote a location on the international tourism market should not be underestimated.
However, in the case of St. Petersburg, the gastronomic component of its tourist brand is not clearly defined and does not by itself attract tourists to the city.
This chapter is organised as follows. In the section Theoretical Framework, the authors examine the following: the connection between gastronomy and tourism; the idiosyncrasies of the gastronomic experience of tourists; the fundamental principles of regional branding; and the characteristics of gastronomic branding of destinations.
The section Data and Methodology contains a description of the methodology employed for conducting an stakeholder interview, the criteria under which the stakeholder were selected, and the components of the main stakeholder groups.
In the section Findings, the authors present the key results of the stakeholder survey and the answers to the following questions: How do the stakeholders evaluate the relevance and the prospects of gastronomic brand formation? Do the stakeholders consider gastronomic brand formation in St. Petersburg to be possible on the basis of its cultural and historic heritage? The most important part of the survey was the determination of the basic elements and the specific ways of creating a gastronomic brand for St. Petersburg (on the basis of stakeholders opinions).
Following on from this, we then conducted a series of in-depth expert interviews in order to collect more details to describe the major components of a St. Petersburg gastronomic brand. The authors distinguished four components of the city’s gastronomic brand creation.