Food and travel website The Local Tongue was crowned consumer publication of the year – online at last year’s Travel Media Awards. We spoke to founder Jessica Rigg about a range of issues, including the importance of reaching out to the owners of the businesses they report on, and breaking down barriers. If you want to see your website or publication on this year’s list of winners, make sure you enter for free here before 29 April 2022.
What does it mean to you to have your magazine honoured at the Travel Media Awards?
It means more than we can articulate here. With grit and passion, we’ve grown The Local Tongue and its community. Our purpose remains the same: to celebrate food and drink venues around the world, from neighbourhood restaurants to fine diners, so that people can have delicious experiences that connect them with community and culture, regardless of budget. To have the Travel Media Awards recognise this tells us that we’re on the right path, and importantly, that we’re doing good work. It inspires us to think bigger and motivates us to grow our coverage to help more visitors and support more destinations around the world.
What have been your biggest challenges over the past year?
As a publisher of restaurant and bar recommendations around the world, it’s critical that the information we provide readers is up to date. For us, it’s also important to support the recommended venues in any way we can. To help ensure that our recommendations are relevant, we reach out to every venue mentioned on The Local Tongue. As you can imagine, this is a very time-consuming process; however, it allowed us to intimately connect with business owners and operators during the pandemic. We spoke with business owners who had unfortunately shut their doors, those who’d pivoted to take-out or produce boxes, and those that were hanging in there thanks to supportive, local communities. The connections we made were inspiring, to say the least, but they also helped us find ways in which we could use our platform to support local restaurants and bars — like our gift voucher initiative, which raised over £20,000 for small business operators during a time they needed it most.
What makes a great travel story?
One that connects us with community and culture: that help us to understand the identity and history of place and people. It’s through this understanding that we can break down cultural barriers. At The Local Tongue, we use guides and stories to celebrate the power of food to bring people and communities together. By following this ethos, we aim to bridge the gap between travel and local experiences, ensuring tourism is a win-win scenario for both residents and visitors.
Do you think travel writing will change over the next few years?
From A A Gill to Paul Theroux, travelogues and stories from the world’s best travel authors and journalists have inspired our own journeys. We predict, however, that in the coming years, travellers will turn to locals for travel inspiration and guidance. Instead of journalists travelling to write a travel feature, local experts will be relied upon to help visitors unearth secret gems and locals-only knowledge.
If you want to enter your publication for the Consumer Publication of the Year – Online award for 2022, or enter any of the 20 categories, it’s free and easy to do so here.
29 April — entries close
25 July — recipient of Special Contribution Award announced
1 August — finalists announced
26 September — awards ceremony takes place