Oct 21, 2008

The Malaysia International Gourmet Festival Soars To Greater Heights

Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday 14 October 2008: The Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2008, the 8th successive one in the series, literally soared into the skies this morning as five helicopters, courtesy of Festival Event Partner, Eurocopter Malaysia, converged on Merdeka Square to meet the Minister of Federal Territories, YB Dato' Sri Zulhasnan Rafique, at the festival's official Media Launch at the Royal Selangor Club.

Accompanying the festival's celebrated Master Chefs and flying in the lead helicopter was festival Organising Chairman, YBhg Dato' Steve Day. The loud and thunderous buzz of the helicopters coupled with a splendid landing sequence kept everyone's heart pumping and curious bystanders stopped in their tracks to watch the astonishing spectacle unfold. Upon landing on the ‘padang', Dato' Steve and the festival Master Chefs gathered together in front of the lead helicopter in a fun filled ceremony to present Dato' Sri Zulhasnan with a copy of the Festival Magazine containing details of all Festival restaurants, chefs, menus, offers and happenings, 70,000 copies of which will be distributed both locally and internationally.

The Malaysia International Gourmet Festival will be held over 30 days from 1st - 30th November with 28 of the country's very best restaurants taking part. Each of them will be serving up special festival menus at extra special festival prices accompanied by a slew of festival offers throughout the month of November. Foodies everywhere can make a date with festival restaurants to enjoy these once-in-a-year signature menus at competitive prices and at the same time enjoy block booking offers, a la carte discounts and room night offers amongst other exciting promotions and offers. All details can be found on the Festival website, http://www.migf.com/ which received over one million hits during last year's festival. Overseas visitors can also enjoy special MIGF Gourmet Tour accommodation and dining packages offered by the Official Tour Operator, World Express.

Festival Partners this year include Mercedes-Benz as the Official Car, Canon as the Official Imaging Partner, Carlsberg as the Official Beer and Epicentre - Apple Premium Reseller, for Technical Support along with Festival Event Partner, Eurocopter Malaysia. Festival Media Partners, Astro, LiteFM, Asian Food Channel, Seni Jaya, Vision Four, Vision KL and MFX have also been spreading the Festival word locally and internationally with television and radio commercials, billboards, special magazine supplements and feature articles.

Providing spectacular locations for the Festival are Venue Sponsors, Putrajaya Marriott for the Gala Launch, and Palace of the Golden Horses for the Grand Finale Dinner. A special mid-festival event - "Style Rocks!" will also take place at Sunway Lagoon's Ministry of Sound at Euphoria.

IMPORTANCE TO THE ECONOMY

In a speech delivered to members of the Festival Advisory Committee, Festival sponsors and Media partners as well as representatives of the Festival restaurants, the Federal Territories Minister, YB Dato' Sri Zulhasnan Rafique underlined the importance of the food and beverage industry to Malaysia:

"The food and beverage industry is paramount to our country's economy. The sector is worth billions in terms of expenditure and investments. At the same time, this critical employment sector also employs hundreds of thousands of people. Much more than that, I am of the view that the food business offers us a form of salvation from the darks days that are fast engulfing the globe - as well as enabling the economy to prosper through revenue generating initiatives like the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival."

Dato' Sri Zulhasnan noted that Malaysia had long been famous for its exquisite hawker food with influences drawn from the country's many multi-cultural origins. However, the dining scene has had to keep pace with modern changes in the international economy:

"Kuala Lumpur has had to reposition itself from merely being a backpacker's destination to a high yield tourist destination suitable for Meetings, Conventions, Incentives and Exhibitions," said Dato' Sri Zulhasnan. "The fact that these days we are seeing such a diverse and cosmopolitan selection of restaurants in Kuala Lumpur with standards that are now truly world class speaks volumes for the influence the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival has had."

And the effects of the Malaysia International Gourmet festival go way beyond the food and beverage industry. A point that was also made by Dato' Sri Zulhasnan:

"A healthy dining scene not only adds to the quality of life but serves to emphasise the position Kuala Lumpur has as a unique, diversified, safe and sophisticated place in which to live, visit as a tourist and conduct business in. It also adds to the decision making mix when overseas companies are considering a location for an international headquarters or assessing a safe haven for foreign investment."

Referring to the importance of Malaysia's unique food heritage, Organising Chairman Dato' Steve Day had this to say:

"In the highly competitive tourism business, every country on the planet is trying to identify unique selling points that will make them stand out from the crowd and help them attract the world's top high yield tourists. Here in Malaysia we are blessed with more than our fair share of desirable tourism products and attractions, but in my humble opinion there is only one that really does stand out from the rest - the sheer quality and diversity of our food!"

As to the value and effect of the festival, Dato' Steve continued as follows:

"Today, the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival can lay claim to being one of the country's best known international brands. It has helped make fine dining accessible not only to local Malaysians, but to the world at large which of course is terrific for attracting those high yield tourists."

The Malaysia International Gourmet Festival is on Tourism Malaysia's Official Calendar of Events and was awarded one of the tourism industry's highest international accolades last year when it won the Pacific Air Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award for Marketing last year - the first such award given to a gourmet festival. However the organizers are not resting on their laurels

"We cannot be complacent - and we know it," says Dato' Steve. "In fact, I would go as far as to say that all hands are now needed on deck as we strive to maintain our current lead and compete with neighbouring countries who now realise the full value of international food tourism - with some even trying to take ‘ownership' of our local cuisines! This is why the festival is so important. It continually raises the bar and each year our participating restaurants excel themselves in creating Festival Menus that stretch imaginations to the full and combine international flair with the best of local ingredients and cooking techniques. This year is no different."

So this November, leave your diets at home and take your friends, family and business associates out to as many festival restaurants as you can. Check out http://www.migf.com/ and plan your festival dining schedule. Remember, no one can copy the full Malaysian experience. For it's not only our unique cuisine and friendly service that set us apart - it's our relaxed approach to life. Dining is fun! Jemput Makan!

BRIEF HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

Now into its 8th successive year, The Malaysia International Gourmet Festival made its debut in 2001 when the organizers, AsiaReach Events, brought together an intrepid group of 13 restaurants to form the inaugural KL International Gourmet Festival (KLIGF).

That first festival was started in response to industry cries to help breathe life into what was then a very small fine dining scene. Though Malaysians had always enjoyed dining out, their overriding preference was for traditional restaurants and hawker food. Only a few fine dining restaurants existed for the simple reason there was not a big enough base of local diners to draw upon.

The festival's aims from the outset therefore were to increase the size of the local fine dining population for the mutual benefit of the participating restaurants; to create a sustained interest in the local fine dining scene; and, ultimately, to make Malaysia an international food tourism destination of choice.

During the Festival, restaurants put aside their highly competitive differences, share contacts and join together in a collective marketing effort. Rather than bringing in chefs from overseas for a limited food promotion, the festival's firm focus is on the skills of the world-class chefs already resident in Malaysia and the all-year-round quality of our cuisine and restaurants.

The idea is also to make to make fine dining as accessible to as many people as possible and not just an exclusive few. Special Festival Menus sold at special prices and Festival Offers not only help attract a new generation of diners, they also persuade existing diners to try different venues and dine out more often. In addition Festival Awards provide valuable recognition and encourage more people to take up careers in the hospitality sector.

Supported in the beginning almost entirely by sponsorship and media partners from the private sector, the festival is now universally recognised as Malaysia's premier fine dining event. In 2006 KLIGF became MIGF to enable restaurants from all over the country to participate. Last year, the festival received international recognition by winning the PATA Gold Award for Marketing - an achievement that has helped make Malaysia one of the leading destinations in the world for food tourism.

For enquiries, and a copy of the Festival Preview Magazine, please contact:

Chitra Constantine chitra@asiareach.com.my Tel: 03 2282 8028

http://www.migf.com/

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