The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the topic of this dissertation and then to explain why this research is important is to promote local cuisine to market a place as a tourism destination. This study is initiated by the question on what are the elements that stimulate to promote local cuisine to market a place as a tourism destination, which is often considered as an important element in tourism. Furthermore, this study will help tourism industry to get the overview of the factors that will increase the number of tourist by promoting local cuisine in a tourism destination. In addition, they are able to see more clearly the importance of the elements, a tourism industry vitally needed to boost their income level in today world trend.
1.1 Background of the Study
Ever wonder how important is a tourism sector? According to The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism is the world’s largest generator of jobs, producing economic growth, investment and foreign trade. Tourism brings in foreign exchange earnings, diversifies the economy, and promotes regional development through the expansion of tourist destinations and resources throughout the country (Valencia, 1991). Tourism comprises the main framework of economics in some countries and it is considered as an economic and employment generator.
Over the last quarter century, beginning from a low base, Malaysia has developed a major travel and tourist industry. In 1980, Malaysia attracted modest 2.3million international tourist arrivals, but by 2005 this figure had increased to 16.4 million, making Malaysia the second most visited country in Asia after China (New Straits Times, 2005).
The Malaysian government regards tourism as an important vehicle to diversify its economic structure. It is because, tourism has become Malaysia’s most successful services sector, with the tourism, restaurant and hotel subsectors accounting for 43% of total final services in 2005 (EIU, 2005). In 2006, official projections were that there would be 18.1 million international tourist arrivals in Malaysia and that travel and tourism would generate US$30.8 billion in total demand. The direct and indirect effect of travel and tourism in Malaysia in 2006 was expected to account for 14.6% of GDP and 1,345,000 jobs (12.6% of total employment). The travel and tourism sector generated US$18.1 billion in export revenue, representing 10.1% of exports in 2006, making tourism Malaysia’s second largest foreign exchange earner after manufacturing (WTTC, 2006).
Kelantan is one of the states situated in Malaysia and it is located on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Kelantan is famous for its distinctive cultural heritage and known as “Cradle of Malay Culture”. Due to that, unparalleled hospitality of the locals is including local cuisine that could influence the tourism development in the state. Local food has been found to be an important element of the tourist experience which adds value to a holiday at a destination (Quan ; Wang, 2004). Local cuisine, which contributes to a destination’s identity, is an integral part of the travel experience for many travelers .Local cuisines should become apparent, obvious and visible as a destination’s intangible heritage; as experiencing the delectable taste allows tourists to gain an authentic cultural experience.
Tourism is growing industry as more and more people flock to see the rich Malay culture that is inherent in the lifestyles of Kelantan’s people. Besides, Kelantanese have preserved their customs, tradition and cultures well over the years. Same goes to the local cuisine where the taste and the method of preparing where they follow from their ancestors till today.
Gastronomy is the possession of skills, knowledge relating to food and drinks and their preference. It is also an art of living which enhance the enjoyment and pleasure of eating and drinking. This satisfaction is the fundamental of gastronomic tourism. Gastro is a word that derived from “gastros” which means stomach and “gnomos” which means knowledge of law in Greek. The terms ‘gastronomy’ and ‘culinary tourism’ are often used, and in the eyes of the majority of tourists and tourism professionals they are mostly interchangeable. For some, however, the use of the word ‘gastronomy’ implies the inclusion of ‘fine dining’ with a high level of culinary skill used to create masterpiece dishes from exquisite ingredients of the highest possible quality.
Malaysia is the vast gastronomic product and one of the well-known countries in South Asia which offer it to international tourists. A diverse ethnic, diverse cultural and various society comprises Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups who live side by side have created the unique gastronomic products with the combination of ingredients and taste. The types of equipment used, the style of cooking and the way of serving food are also fascinating. So, it justifies Malaysia is a simply a gastronomic heaven. This study seeks to discover the Kelantan gastronomic products such as local cuisine and how could it be promote Kelantan as a tourism destinations.