Getting into tourists’ hearts via the stomach
04 Nov 2006
PUTRAJAYA: The spicy aroma of Malaysian cooking will be spread around the world to attract tourists, increase agriculture exports and put the country on the gourmet map The government’s target is to have 8,000 Malaysian eateries worldwide by 2015 under the "Malaysia: The Truly Asian Kitchen" or "MalaysiaKitchen" programme, an initiative under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said MalaysiaKitchen would help the agriculture and tourism sectors by increasing exports of local food products and raw ingredients and increase tourist arrivals.
The restaurants will be used as centres to disseminate information on tourism and as bases to promote Malaysian cuisine, brands, products and handicrafts.The concept will also help Malaysia achieve its goal of being a net food exporter by 2010.
"This concept integrates our agriculture and tourism goals. The benefits to Malaysia may not be immediately tangible but will be in the way of improving Malaysia’s image and spreading our name. "
We hope it will attract tourists while increasing exports of our agriculture and agro-based products," Najib said after chairing the first meeting of the MalaysiaKitchen committee.
Ministries involved in the programme are Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development, International Trade and Industry and Finance.Najib said the government was only a facilitator in this programme and it was up to the private sector and entrepreneurs to make it succeed.Existing restaurateurs can get tax incentives and grants to open outlets abroad.
Najib said details on the full package of incentives were being finalised.New entrepreneurs can get up to 90 per cent financing at three per cent interest from the Export-Import (Exim) Bank Malaysia to open restaurants abroad as long as 70 per cent of the company’s shares are Malaysian-owned.
A seed fund of RM130 million has been given to Exim Bank for this purpose.Alternatively, entrepre- neurs who want to open restaurants overseas under the MalaysiaKitchen brand, can take part in a franchise by the Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Ministry. Najib said the ministry was ready to accept applications.Malaysian embassies and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) offices abroad will help restaurants in sourcing raw materials directly from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, with special air freight rates from Malaysia Airlines.
However, independent restaurants will not be forced to use the MalaysiaKitchen brand name, nor are they obliged to source raw ingredients and other materials from Malaysian suppliers.
"We want them to be creative. "They have to make business decisions and source their materials from wherever is cheapest. "We also will not be rigid about the menu as long as it is Malaysian cuisine and the restaurant has a Malaysian ambience," Najib said.
He urged established restaurants and eateries here to take up the offer.The governnment wants the bulk of Malaysian restaurants to be opened in North America and Europe.
The first MalaysiaKitchen franchise will open in Tokyo next month.
News Source : New Strait Times