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Ministry set to make Palembang's 'pempek' go global

Yulia Savitri
Yulia Savitri

The Jakarta Post

Palembang, South Sumatra | Thu, August 9, 2018 | 03:39 pm
Ministry set to make Palembang's 'pempek' go global

The traditional dish from South Sumatra, 'pempek' is a fish cake that is usually served with dark, sweet and sour sauce. (Shutterstock/-)

As one of the hosts of the 2018 Asian Games, Palembang is expected to become a bargain shopping destination for foreign tourists.

Speaking during the opening of the Second Indonesia Bargain Shopping Day (BHDI), which is part of the 27th Sriwijaya Festival in Kuto Besak Fort in Palembang on Wednesday night, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the Asian Games serve as a perfect moment to promote the South Sumatra city as a shopping destination. "This bargain shopping [theme] can help increase the number of tourists [to Palembang], which includes culinary tourism," said Arief.

On Wednesday, Aug. 8, 'pempek' broke the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI) as the largest number of Indonesia National Standard (SNI)-'pempek' in the world, a move that aims to introduce the food to the global community.On Wednesday, Aug. 8, 'pempek' broke the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI) as the largest number of Indonesia National Standard (SNI)-'pempek' in the world, a move that aims to introduce the food to the global community. (JP/Yulia Savitri)

Regarding culinary tourism, Arief said Indonesia does not yet have national food that could be exported massively, unlike China, Japan and Thailand. Alongside the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), the ministry is said to have listed the archipelago's national foods, such as rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk), soto (aromatic soup), gado-gado (Indonesian salad), nasi goreng (fried rice) and sate (satay). However, as Palembang's signature dish of pempek (fish cake) has already surpassed the export target for the five foods, the ministry will also make it a culinary export item. "Palembang is able to export 7 tons of pempek per day, which is a surprising accomplishment," he said.

Arief said Indonesia could adopt Thailand's strategy in order to make pempek go global. One of the strategies is providing a subsidy of US$100,000 to anyone who opens a Thai restaurant abroad. As a result, up to 35 million foreign tourists regularly visited the country and Thailand's foreign exchange reached up to $45 billion.

Read also: Jakpost guide to 2018 Asian Games: Palembang

On Wednesday, the food broke the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI) as the largest number of Indonesia National Standard (SNI)-pempek in the world, a move that aims to introduce pempek to the global community.

South Sumatra Marine and Fisheries Agency data stated that over 4,000 small and medium businesses of pempek and other fish-related processed products could be found in Palembang.

Around 170,000 foreign tourists are expected to visit Indonesia during the Asian Games, of which 30 percent or around 50,000 people will explore Palembang. The Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) has also stated that 7,000 press publishers have signed up to report the event, which means Palembang will attract the world's attention even more. 

Currently, hotels and guest houses in the city are already fully booked with tourists, and Arief has called on the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) to assist in providing homestays to accommodate tens of thousands of guests.

"We have to take benefit of this Asian Games momentum to further promote [Palembang]. As next year Palembang will also host MotoGP, we ask for support from the Tourism Ministry," said South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin. (kes)

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