01/31/2013 12:46 pm ET Updated Apr 02, 2013

Why We Travel?

The holiday travels are over, the suitcase are unpacked and most people have quickly eased back into their normal routines. This often means going back to work or being at home caring for the family. Within a few days, we often begin to dream about our next extended vacation or think about a special weekend getaway.

What causes the desire to repack the suitcases and take to the skies or get in the car in search of learning or experiencing something new? Many domestic travelers plan to visit family and friends and partake in some local activity. Other people desire to travel internationally on a quest to discover that special "sense of place" at an exotic destination.

Within the last decade the growing significance of tourism and travel as a form of economic development for most countries in the world has made tourism one of the most important global businesses. Countries and cities are developing and marketing their resources for tourism in hopes that you will decide to travel and discover what they have to offer that is exciting to you.

Curious about why my friends were traveling during the holiday season, many told me they wanted to spend a few days with family but then they planned to travel to some place they had not visited in the past. Many said they wanted to discover new cities, participate in cultural exchanges, or try something adventurous, but most of all, they were interested in traveling for culinary tourism -- one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry. From students to seniors, the interest in travel to discover and taste new foods, observe how food is grown, processed, and prepared has become a fascination of people of all ages.

During my holiday break, I visited family in San Francisco, where dining on fresh seafood, especially Dungeness crab, was important. Then to my home in Portland, Oregon, which has become known as a culinary tourism destination. Portland's culinary tourism offers everything -- from a large variety of food-truck dining to amazing gourmet restaurants. The focus is on fresh foods from the abundance of produce grown in the area -- the real farm to table dining experience. This is one of the primary reasons I travel. I want to discover what makes one destination different from another but especially to discover the local cuisine. How about you? Why do you travel? What is the motivation?

Watch for the next blog which will discuss the importance of culinary tourism to travel and tourism.