Govt Ponders Incentives for Indonesian Restaurants Abroad

04 January, 2012 | Source: The Jakarta Post

Following the West Sumatran dish rendang being dubbed as one of the world’s most delicious foods by CNN’s travel guide, the government is considering providing Indonesian restaurants abroad with incentives.


“Culinary art is a strategic entry point to sell more about Indonesia, and it starts from restaurants,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said in Jakarta on Thursday.

As a first step, the ministry is going to list Indonesian restaurants abroad to learn about the business, identify problems and perhaps come up with solutions, Mari said.

The Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) welcomed the ministry’s intention, saying that incentives for restaurant entrepreneurs were necessary and similar efforts had been implemented by other countries.

PHRI executive director Cyprianus Aoer said that the Thai government had given incentives to entrepreneurs to open Thai restaurants abroad for several years as part of its efforts to expand culinary tourism.

“[Thai] Businesspeople just have to send proposals to the tourism minister in order to get some funds to help their restaurants. Indonesia should look at Thailand as an example of how to promote local cuisine,” Cyprianus told The Jakarta Post.

Incentives aside, the ministry is in the process of selecting culinary champions that will be used as icons.

“The problem is that we have so many traditional dishes that it makes it difficult to choose the icon,” she said. In addition, it became more complicated because iconic food items should appeal to international tastes.

Mari said nasi goreng (fried rice) and rendang (spicy beef stew) were among the best candidates.

“We have always served nasi goreng and rendang during Indonesian nights in international events, and foreigners really love them,” she said.

Another challenge the ministry faces is that Indonesia should develop standards for the taste of their iconic foods.

Rendang, for instance, is also claimed by Malaysia as a local dish. Thus, Indonesia should be able to show the “distinct Indonesian flavor” in rendang, Mari said.

“Indonesia has a lot of great chefs and I do believe we can find the standard and strategy to promote it,” she said.

The ministry recently included “culinary” as one of the creative industry’s sub-sectors, together with the 14 already established sub-sectors such as performing arts, handicrafts, music, advertising and films because it is strongly related to tourism.

Moreover, 2011 Global Travel Intention Survey conducted by Visa showed that culinary experiences were among the reasons why foreign tourists visited Indonesia this year.

According to the survey, 52 percent out of 11,620 respondents from 23 countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China, Germany, the US, Russia and Brazil, loved to sample local cuisine during their stay in Indonesia.

The survey also showed that 64 percent of tourists were willing to spend more money on food.

This year, CNN Go’s travel guide to Asia named rendang at number 11 on the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Food” list, beating French croissants and American donuts.

Es kelapa muda (an iced coconut drink) and es cendol (a drink made from rice flour served with coconut milk, palm sugar and ice) also made the World’s 50 Most Delicious Drinks list, placing 19th and 45th respectively.

 

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