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Gastronomy Tourism on the Menu in Sarawak
02 December 2022 | Written by Chris Alexander

From nasi lemak to rendang and roti john, Malaysian cuisine is some of the best in Southeast Asia. Now, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is focusing on developing tourism campaigns based around the region’s unique culinary offerings, with various promotions, partnerships and festivals expected in the near future.

Last November, Sarawak’s capital (Kuching) was named by UNESCO as a “City of Gastronomy”, in recognition of the city’s rich food culture and heritage, but also to reward the commitments made by local government and other stakeholders to put Malaysia’s culinary offerings at the heart of sustainable tourism in the region.

“Being the first city of gastronomy in Malaysia and the region, we are very happy,” explains STB chief executive officer Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor. “We will work very closely with those who are looking into the gastronomy area,” said the CEO during a press conference in conjunction with the launch of Brahim’s Outdoor Programme in East Malaysia at Permai Rainforest Resort in Santubong, held on 26 November.

She believes that cooperation will be the key to expanding the attractions on offer in Sarawak and building the region’s reputation for gastronomy among international visitors. “For example,” said Sharzede, “find out what are the activities of the gastronomy festival that is currently available near a certain area so that we can combine our activities and amplify the marketing and promotional activities, rather than working in silos.”

She added that STB is currently looking into proposals that promote responsible and sustainable tourism development, with an overall aim to build awareness and interest in Sarawak’s products and destinations.

STB promotional work is currently built around five central pillars: culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals. Sharzede and her team will be looking to strengthen in each of these key areas, but with particular focus placed on food and festivals in the coming months. Key to this process will be forging new partnerships.

“When we have companies that come with a proposal that includes the element of gastronomy,” explains Sharzede, “we will study the proposal and evaluate how we can leverage such proposals and platforms, or activities and initiatives to position Sarawak’s gastronomy tourism.”

“Amplification of our strategies is very important,” said the CEO of STB. “We hope in 2023 we will move forward,” she added.