The ministry has set up a special Indonesian Culinary Acceleration Team to optimally utilize the countrys culinary arts as an instrument to promote tourism.
Indonesia is optimistic that culinary promotions will help the country achieve its target of attracting 15 million tourists this year.
Indonesia has various types of culinary arts with huge potential to attract tourists.
Therefore, the team has trained several chefs to be assigned in overseas Indonesian restaurants.
Led by Rendang, as one of the most delicious foods, at least there are 40 more foods that have gained international appreciation as the most delicious Indonesian foods. They include sate (satay), nasi goreng (fried rice), bakso (meat ball soup), soto (traditional soups), and gado-gado (mixed vegetable with peanut sauce).
Culinary arts could serve as an effective tool to promote tourism, I. Gde Pitana, deputy in charge of international tourism marketing of the Tourism Ministry, stated.
The ministry has initiated culinary tourism by opening Indonesian restaurants in several countries, including China and Switzerland.
In China, the ministry is optimistic of setting up Indonesian restaurants in at least 10 touristic cities.
"Two have been opened in Anhui, and the latest one called the Bali Indonesia Wonderful Restaurant is in Peony Plaza Hotel in Luoyang," he noted.
When foreigners sample Indonesian culinary dishes and they like it, they will also be attracted to visit the country, he remarked.
Pitana inaugurated the restaurant, Wonderful Indonesia", named after the countrys tourism brand name, at Peony Plaza Hotel recently.
"Culinary has become an effective means of promotion. It also has the potential to become an entry point to tourism. Unlike in the past when culture, arts, or sports were used as means of promotion, we will use culinary at present," he noted in his statement received here.
He had cooperated with Peony Plaza Hotel, one of the most popular four-star rated hotels in Luoyang, for the promotion.
"We did not invest in a large amount for the cooperation. We only trained three chefs in Luoyang to handle Indonesian foods and spread information about it," he stated.
The hotel management had agreed to provide a full space on the 25th floor with a capacity of around 125 seats, he remarked.
This is the first rotary restaurant in the city where visitors could enjoy the beautiful scenery of Luoyang while dining on a rotating restaurant on the 25th floor.
"After experiencing the Indonesian nuance, we plan to invite tourism agencies, travel bureaus, journalists, and restaurant owners in Luoyang to join a trip to Indonesia in May," he reiterated.
Luoyang Peony Plaza Hotels Board of Management President Wei Dong remarked that he had agreed to provide one floor exclusively for Wonderful Indonesia Restaurant, because of the potential that could be developed from the Indonesian culinary products.
"The relations between the people of Luoyang and Indonesia have existed for thousand years. A lot of Luoyang people are curious about Bali as well as other parts of Indonesia. Hence, with the presence of Wonderful Indonesia, we will strive to attract more people to dine here," he asserted.
Wei Dong believed that Indonesian foods could receive good response from the people in his country.
In fact, Indonesia has the potential to break into the ranks of worlds largest gastronomy countries with a number of supporting factors it has.
Chairman of the Indonesian Gastronomy Academy (AGI) Vita Datau Mesakh said gastronomy, an art and practice of cooking and eating good food, is closely related to the area or place, identity, and culture.
"We can see gastronomy from the view point of food and landscape. With that point of view, we would get social, cultural, political, economic, or historical descriptions through food," she noted.
"Selling and promoting all types of food will need creativity such as in the processing and marketing of food products. In this context, tourism, especially gastronomy tourism, is an effective trigger," she revealed.
Last March, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya opened the second National Gastronomy Dialog and Wakatobi Culinary Promotion in Jakarta.
He pointed out that Indonesia has cultural values that could be commercialized, including in culinary.
Yahya welcomed the event aimed at boosting Indonesias culinary tourism industry.
He said culinary was a major factor to determine success or failure in attracting tourists, citing that Batam relies on culinary festivals to attract cross-border tourists from Singapore and Malaysia.
The National Gastronomy Dialog, under the theme of From Food to Root: The Rise of Gastronomy Tourism, is organized by AGI in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry. It serves as a forum of discussion to exchange experience to promote Indonesian gastronomy tourism.
The Wakatobi Culinary Promotion is part of an attempt to promote the Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi as a tourist destination in the country, one of 10 priority destinations being developed in Bali.(*)