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A Taste of Indonesia: Culinary Tourism on the Menu
05 November 2022 | Written by Chris Alexander

From nasi goreng to rendang, and from durian to sambal, Indonesia’s culinary heritage is as rich and diverse as the archipelago itself. The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry is looking to cash in on the nation’s cuisine, with plenty of foodie-friendly tourism offerings expected to be served up in the months ahead.

“Let’s promote culinary as the entry point of travel to Indonesia,” said Ni Made Ayu Marthini, who is the ministry’s deputy of marketing, in a statement at the end of October. The culinary sector is one of 17 earmarked for development and promotion by the ministry.

Part of this process will involve reaching out into the Indonesian diaspora, and the 1,100 Indonesian restaurants currently operating in countries around the world. Through outreach and support, the government is planning to increase this number to at least 4,000 by 2024.

“We will continue to assist these restaurants and help through cooperation programmes with representatives abroad, with the central government and regional governments,” explained Marthini.

However, the best shop window for Indonesia’s culinary wonders is the country itself. As part of its wider aim to develop tourism villages nationwide, the government is channeling resources into the promotion of local foods and traditional culinary heritage in these key locations. With 50 such villages currently in the pipeline, Marthini believes visitors are in for a treat.

“Experiences that to us are common, to them they are extraordinary,” she explains. “For example, in Baduy, there is delicious honey; we also take (tourists) along to show how to harvest honey. This is a new direction of marketing: experience.”

Earlier this year, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, travelled to the USA as part of the ‘Indonesia Spice of the World’ campaign. The trip was an opportunity to raise awareness of Indonesian cuisine, but also – as Uno admitted – and excuse to “eat and enjoy these legendary dishes” with foreign dignitaries.

The ministry is currently working on ways to diversify and widen their culinary offerings to suit the needs and tastes of modern travellers. In the months ahead, visitors to the archipelago will be treated to some truly special culinary offerings, served up by the people and places who have cherished these dishes and their cultural significance for generations.

Hungry for more? To explore some of the country’s most famous dishes, read our Top 10 Indonesian Street Foods article, here.