Kampala, Uganda – A new study has found that continuous use of popular flavourings, fresh materials and adoption of best culinary practices such as “marinating” are a major reason for tourists’ revisits to African-Ethnic Restaurants (AER’s).
In the study, titled “Innovative Capacity and Sustainable Food Tourist Influx to African-ethnic restaurants: The Dynamic capabilities perspective,” Makerere University researchers, Samson Omuudu Otengei and Associate Professor, Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa focused on food provision in East Africa using the case of AERs.
According Samson Omuudu Otengei, a senior lecturer in the Department of Leisure and Hospitality Management and the lead researcher, “these restaurants (AERs) deal in indigenous, typical or specialty dishes from Africa. They prepare and sell food and other gastronomic products that are traditionally linked to African people and felt by themselves and others to constitute a distinct cuisine, i.e. African cuisine.”
He reveals that, the study which sought to find how innovative capacity influences sustainable food tourist inflows to AER’s in East Africa, was informed by the dynamic capabilities theory, where a multiple case study approach was adopted.
Speaking to Africa Tembelea, corresponding author, Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa, an Associate Professor of tourism and conservation in the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism; said the study which has already been peer reviewed by four of the world’s top tourism journals reveals that continuous food quality improvement, adoption of new technology, innovative authenticity assurance, customer involvement and personalized service, and engagement of dynamic tour and travel agents are strategically, sustainably tourist food inflows to AERs.
“The ability to respond to guest unique requests and specification is a valuable capability,” Ahebwa told Africa Tembelea.
He also said the study, found that the use of traditional paraphernalia, indigenous ingredients and, hiring creative traditional chefs is critical in retaining food tourists.
“Provision of diversity through an elaborate African buffet, eclectic cuisine, and regular menu reviews was found to be vital in attracting visitors to AERs,” he said.
According to Ahebwa, there could be several ways of enhancing and sustaining food tourist visits and re-visits to AERs, however, innovative capacity remains a key factor.
He however, recommends routine re-engineering of the native offerings to suit international tourists’ expectations which he says will appreciate the African food culture.