Article

Is Malaysian Food Important to Local Tour Operators?

Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam 40450, Malaysia
Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 12/2013; 105:458–465. DOI: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.11.048

ABSTRACT

Known as a multiracial country Malaysia not only hold unique cultures, customs and traditions but also having a range of distinctive local food as part of the gastronomic products. International tourists perceived Malaysia having varieties of interesting food, snacks and ethnic cuisines which are worth to be explored. Various efforts are implemented by the government in promoting and marketing these products among the international tourists. However, the extent to which tour operators perceive the importance of Malaysian Malaysian food and their subsequent action behavior are not known and this paper r evealed such issues.

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Available from: Mohd Salehuddin Mohd Zahari, Dec 18, 2014
Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 105 ( 2013 ) 458 – 465
1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying,
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.
doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.11.048
ScienceDirect
AicE-Bs2013London
Asia Pacific International Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies
University of Westminster, London, UK, 4-6 September 2013
"From Research to Practice"
Is Malaysian Food Important to Local Tour Operators?
Nuraisyah Md. Yusoff
*
, Mohd Salehuddin Mohd Zahari,
Mohd Zain Mohd Kutut
, Mohd Shaazali Mohd Sharif
Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam 40450, Malaysia
Abstract
Known as a multiracial country Malaysia not only hold unique cultures, customs and traditions but also having a
range of distinctive local food as part of the gastronomic products. International tourists perceived Malaysia having
varieties of interesting food, snacks and ethnic cuisines which are worth to be explored. Various efforts are
implemented by the government in promoting and marketing these products among the international tourists.
However, the extent to which tour operators perceive the importance of Malaysian Malaysian food and their
subsequent action behavior are not known and this paper r evealed such issues.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Centre for Environment-
Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.
Keywords: Gastronomic products; tour operators; perceived importance; action behavior; Malaysian food
1. Introduction
Having a diverse ethnic groups and races is giving an advantage to Malaysia with a vast gastronomic
products which directly contribute to the country's economy and promoting the gastronomy tourism.
Looking at this potential, various efforts are implementing by the government in promoting the
gastronomic tourism products namely food, beverages and food related activities. It starts to show some
limelight and positive indication when the majority of the international tourists enjoyed, experienced and
learnt about these products during their vacation in this country. Scholars argue that, any tourism products
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +60 17 610 3738; fax: +0-000-000-0000 .
E-mail address: aisyah_yusoff@ymail.com.
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture,
Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.
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Nuraisyah Md. Yusoff et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 105 ( 2013 ) 458 – 465
and even tour operators.
operators perceived gastronomic products important for creative tourism (Jalis et. al, 2009). In fact, many
now used gastronomic products as a marketing tool, a pulling factor in attracting visitors and play a
leading role in adding value to a destination (Shenoy, 2005; Jalis et. al, 2009). The Intrepid Travel
Agency (2004) reported that much of the tour operators in Australia, United States, Europe and some of
Asian countries especially Thailand, China and Japan offers gastronomy packages on top the shopping
and sightseeing. Holiday with cooking, food related activities and wine appreciation feature regularly in
destinations like Tuscany as well as Provence in Europe, Melbourne and the Sydney Napa Valley in
Australia and the Sonoma Valley in California. Tour operators in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and
United Kingdom are aggressively offering weekend gastronomy packages owing to demand for a short
and/or weekend holidays among food and wine lovers (Scarpato, 2002). Those tour operators even
perceived the importance of gastronomic tourism not only in creating the memorable experiences among
tourists (Goeldner and Ritchie, 2006) but would be the best predictor of future behavior and choices
among potential tourists (Conner and Armitage, 2002). Despite these, the Malaysian tour operator's
perception on the importance of Malaysian gastronomic products like food, beverages and food related
culture are not known and require an investigation. This paper therefore explores the importance of it
from the Malaysian tour operators and their subsequent action behavior in organizing the food tour
itinerary.
2. Literature review
2.1. Gastronomy
As far as it is known, the wor
002; Santich, 2004). In spite
of many definitions given since the early of twelve centuries, Joseph Berchoux in 1801 illustrated that
gastronomy practically was a new social practice with economic implications and cultural circumstances
which relates to foods and beverages (Scarpato, 2020). On the other hand, Brillat-Savarin in his text
The
, described gastronomy was also related to the method by which food is produced, its
economic implications, its treatment, storage, transport and processing (Santich, 2003).
In the later stages (19th century) researchers expanded the term gastronomy into the broader realm
based on the work of Archestratus. Borchgrevink, Nelson and Ruf (1998) then defined gastronomy as the
art and science which relate to the technology of food and beverages, consumption and its applications by
referring to Brillat-Savarin's definition. In other words, they perceived gastronomy as a science the aim of
which was the preservation of man by the best possible nourishment; this was to be achieved by giving
guidance to all who seek, provide or prepare substances which may be turned into food.
In the broader dimension, gastronomy then was also being reviewed from the perspective of art,
psychology, sociology and anthropology (Santich, 1996; Bessière, 1998; Kellner, 1999). Santich (1996)
described gastronomy as reflective eating and expanded this into reflective cooking and food preparation
as well, maintaining the association with excellence and fancy food and drink. It not only offers a path
towards an understanding of the art and science of food and good eating, but also has great relevance to
the society and culture and plays a part in the wider economy (Bessière, 1998).
The Basque Brotherhood of Gastronomy (2003) who provided implicit interpretations by relating
gastronomy to the history of foods and ingredients, to past and present food production practices, to the
role of festive foods, food specialties and their meanings, to differences between regions, to myths and
legends about eating and drinking in fact, believed that gastronomy is, in essence, a cultural expression.
In a recent year, Santich (2003) again contended that gastronomy is associated with the social, cultural
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460 Nuraisyah Md. Yusoff et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 105 ( 2013 ) 458 – 465
and historical aspects of food and eating, encompassing cuisine, restaurants, dining and food culture and
2.2. Gastronomy as tourism products
Besides other tourism products and attraction, it is undeniable that tourists are spent on consuming
food and beverages while traveling to a destination which contribute to a large proportion of most
tou
l, 2009). Scholars even believed that, some tourists perceived food and
drink as one of the important elements of traveling. Therefore, it is not harsh to say that, food and
tourism cannot be separated (Henderson, 2009) whereas whatever the reasons for travelling, tourists just
like the other people need to eat and drink (Richards, 2002). In other word food and beverages cannot be
ignored by tourists when travelling and they in fact cannot visit a country without consuming food and
beverages (Goeldner and Ritchie, 2006).
in fact, believed gastronomy tourism is a newly defined niche that
intersects and impacts both the travel and food and beverage industries. Gastronomic tourism has been
taken for granted for a long time; however it cannot be denied that eating and drinking are the integral
component of our daily lives (Hall and Sharples, 2003). Owing to its importance, the form gastronomy
tourism undoubtedly encouraged the pursuit of travel in the quest for the enjoyment of prepared food,
drinks and other related food activities which can result in a great memorable gastronomic experience. In
that sense, gastronomic products not only focus on food and beverage but it include food related activities
which can reflect the local cultures and heritage to the international tourists (Jalis et. al, 2009).
2.3. Malaysian gastronomy tourism
As with other countries, Malaysia also perceived food is important as part of the gastronomy attraction
to a particular destination. Owing to the diverse ethnic groups, races, cultural practices and belief,
Malaysia is simply gastronomic heaven (Abdul Karim, 2011). Each ethnics are believed to have their own
unique and distinctive food which are interesting to be marketed to the potential tourists. Besides food
and beverages, food culture activities and even including the style of cooking, equipment used and also
the way food being served are seen important as part of the gastronomic product. Apparently,
gastronomic tourism which usually considered as a supporting niche products are now seen as an essential
element in attracting more international tourists (Jalis et. al, 2009).
Derived from different ethnic and races (Malay, Chinese, Indian and other minority ethnics), Malaysia
are believed having vast culinary gourmet comprises a variety of tastes ranging from mild, spicy to sweet
and sour could make Malaysia as one of the best places for experiences gastronomy vacation (Galois et.
al, 2009). The uniqueness of Malaysian gastronomic products, therefore could uphold this country as a
2010). International tourists as revealed by Jalis et. al, (2009) are seeking any information about the
interesting local foods and more likely to taste the traditional foods which can enhance their experience as
well as creating more enjoyable vacation atmosphere while traveling to Malaysia.
3. Methodology
Based on the topic and potential informants, qualitative approach was used through a face to face
interview with selective twenty Malaysian tour operators. Semi structured questions were then developed
in order to obtain valuable information and findings regards to the research interests. As this study
provides a fundamental basis for other potential studies in the future, using one or two contextual settings
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for data collection is considered sufficient and acceptable. Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley (Petaling Jaya
and Shah Alam) were chosen as the venue for data collection as these valleys not only competitive for
economic and business market and the fastest growing area, but most of the local internationally
recognized tour operators are also based in these cities. Owing to the huge population of tour operators in
the country only those operators dealing with international tourists therefore are selected as the sampling
of this study. In other words only tour operators that cater or organize the inbound packages are
participating in the interview session. The interview processes were conducted in the month of August to
December 2012 and were carried out with respective
hour on average.
4. Result and discussion
4.1. Tour
ofiles
Based on the information obtained, it showed that all the twenty
. They specialize in dealing with
international tourists and offering the inbound as well as outbound packages. It is important to be noted
that, all tour companies involved are having more than 20 years time operations and validate for the
information needed. The tour companies involved have been classified according to time duration of
operation, main products and activities, types of packages and type of customers. Cater the international
tourists from various regions namely Asia, Middle East, Europe, Australia and Northern America make
all the tour companies involved in this study are well-known among the international and local travel
industry.
4.2. The importance of malaysian food as gastronomic products
Tour operators are agreed that Malaysian food are important as gastronomic products which could
attract more international tourists in exploring Malaysia as an interesting tourism destination. Having
various and unique food like nasi lemak, satay, roti canai, chicken rice, traditional and other festive foods
are some of the interesting examples of Malaysian food that can be promoted. Derived from different
ethnics such as Malay, Chinese, Indian and other minority groups, tour operators perceived that each of
local food represents Malaysian culture and identity which important to be marketed especially to the
international tourists. Tour operators also stressed that, some tourists enjoyed, learnt and explored others
culture through consuming local food which can enhance their total experience towards a destination.
Some of the interesting verbatim answered as in table below:
Table 1. Interesting verbatim answered
Tour Operator
Answers
Tour Operator 3
represents the Malaysian culture and identity...it is important to noted that we have diverse
ethnic groups like Malay, Chinese, Indian and other minor groups...hmm, I believed all ethnics
having their own uniqueness in term of food which can attract
Tour Operator 8
I believed you also agree that our local food
important as gastronomic products because we have an interesting local food which can be
promoted. Tourists definitely will consume the local food while travelling, therefore it is a good
opportunity for us to
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Tour Operator 12
nasi lemak, roti canai, satay, chicken
rice, other festive food...Well festive food that derived from different celebration such Hari
Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali are very interesting and in fact, each ethnic food having
their own taste, story and culture that can be promoted. That is why, I believed that Malaysian
food is importa
Tour Operator 17
ysian food is an important as gastronomic products. Malaysian food
group... when tourist come to Malaysia, they could try Malay food, Indian food, Chinese
practices..In fact, the way each of ethnic served the food and eat could be different and I found
Seeing to its importance and great potential to attract the international tourists, tour operators also
believed that Malaysian food can expand the tourism industry and even increase the local business and
income. Local food and ethnic cuisines, in fact can be a significant tool in allowing the international
tourists explore the local culture and heritage in creating a more memorable experience while visiting
Malaysia. Using Malaysian food as a pulling factor, tour operators also believed that Malaysian food act
as new niche tourism products that can increase the local tourism earnings. Tour Operators even argued
that:
Table 2. Tour operators argued
In short, Malaysian food are important as gastronomic products owing to its potential and uniqueness
which are believed could attract more international tourists visit Malaysia. Worth to reiterate that,
different ethnics in Malaysia with different cultures, beliefs and practices could bring different food, taste
and authentic dishes. In fact, by promoting the Malaysian food through gastronomic tourism international
tourists indirectly having good opportunities in exploring the Malaysian culture and heritage. It is
important to note that, Malaysian food not only act as adding value to a destination but also indirectly
given advantage to the local sellers, food operators and other parties that relate to it. Thus, it will
contribute the tourism earning and income.
4.3. Tour
Having touched on the perceived importance of Malaysian food as gastronomic products, this
subsequent analysis explains the tour
action behavior in including Malaysian food as part of
Answers
directly it will help in expanding the tourism industry and local earnings owing to its potential
and opportunity. Again, we have diverse ethnic and culture which I believed it can attract
tourists to learn about our culture through consuming the local food...In fact, more tourists
nowadays seeking for more interesting activities while travelling to a destination, therefore we
could use our local food as an another interesting attraction to allow them experience our
industry. In fact, through food, we can help in boosting the local business especially, the local
food seller, food operator and other that related to it... I believed that others might agree if I
perceived Malaysian food act as a new means attraction which can be used as a pulling factor
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Nuraisyah Md. Yusoff et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 105 ( 2013 ) 458 – 465
the tourism product in the tour itinerary. Tour operators are having similar interpretation where they
perceived Malaysian food is important towards their business. Variety types of local food are believed
having their own uniqueness which are potentially being marketed along with other major tourism
products. Although dining activities are not the main activities to be included in the tour itinerary, but all
tour operators involved in this study looking Malaysian food are worth to be promoted in the future.
Taking serious consideration in organizing a food tour itinerary, tour operators also believed that
Malaysian food could become a promising element for tourism products and services. Some of the
verbatim answers recorded are as follows:
Table 3. Verbatim answers recorded
Tour Operator
Answers
Tour Operator 7
certain Malaysian food as main part of the tour itinerary...I believed that, most of the tour
operators consider eating activities are not the main tourism activities while designing the
Tour Operator 10
od important to the gastronomic products,
unfortunately in creating tour itinerary, Malaysian foods are not considering the main
who seeking to experience authentic local food products...In fact, as a CEO of this tour
Tour Operator 16
business. However the extent
to which we include dining activities at particular local restaurant are not getting too much
products in tour itinerary will indirectly cater
5. The implications and conclusion
It is proven from this study that, tour operators clearly perceived that Malaysian food like Nasi lemak,
satay, roti canai, chicken rice, traditional and other festive foods are important as gastronomic products
and having positive indicators in attracting international tourists to visit Malaysia. Many believed that
food are interrelated with tourism industry which tourists definitely will consume local food while
visiting a particular destination. Seeing the current trend of the international tourists which are seeking for
more tangible activities they are assuming eager to experience the local food during their vacation. Some
of the tour operators admitted that Malaysian food importance to their business. In other words, engaging
Malaysian food or dining activities along with the uniqueness of other major tourism products is
gradually receiving attention among the tour operators.
Bearing this point in mind, tour operators in this country especially those who directly deal with
international tourists should increase their marketing strategy in promoting the local gastronomy products
and incorporating dining activities in addition to the existing ones.
few
internationally known local tour operators have started incorporating some of the Malaysian food as part
of their tourism activities or package itineraries. This good indication should not be ignored but
aggressively be utilized by tourism agencies, tour operators, government bodies that these products in
addition to other tourism products able to generate and boost the economy not only to the operators but to
all parties involved. In line with the above statements, the collaboration and cooperation between tour
operators and other stakeholders involved are therefore crucial and should be further strengthened if the
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    • "Similar efforts have been taken by the Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and many others (Fahmi, Hamzah, Muhammad, Yassin, Samah, D'Silva, & Shaffril, 2013). In line with above notion, scholars argued that despite thousands of the rural tourism products in the industry, it is still less able to successfully be promoted without the collaboration of all parties that directly involve in promoting those products such as government authorities, public agencies and tour operators without an exception (Yusoff, Zahari, Kutut, & Sharif, 2013; Khairil & Yuhanis, 2011) otherwise all of those products will become wasted. For instance, ecotourism, wildlife tourism, agro-tourism, cultural, gastronomy, adventures tourism are among those rural tourism products (Holland, Burian & Dixey, 2003). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In addition to other tourism products, rural tourism, in particular, has recently been gaining the recognition that is accelerating it into a growing segment of the tourism industry. Culture, environment, gastronomy, sports, and wildlife are examples of rural tourism products. Despite the thousands of the rural tourism products available, it would not be possible to successfully promote rural tourism without collaboration from all parties that directly involve in promoting those products, such as government authorities, public agencies and tour operators. As intermediaries between tourists and tourism service providers, tour operators can influence the choices, the practices of suppliers and the development patterns of destinations among tourists. This unique role means that tour operators play a key role and are a catalyst to the tourism development. In other words, their action can make an important contribution to furthering the goals of sustainable tourism development and protecting the environmental and cultural resources on which the tourism industry depends for its existence and growth. This paper reviews rural tourism attributes as well addressing the related issues in the Malaysia context and tour operators’ action behavior in promoting the rural tourism. Understanding the tour operator’s perceptions of the importance of the rural tourism attributes and their behavioral action are crucial in helping the government in promoting the rural tourism.
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