Sarawak to be centre for food and hospitality training
Sarawak Tribune - Saturday, 5 July 2003

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BALIKPAPAN, Indonesia - The Sarawak chapter of BIMP-EAGA East Asia Business Council (EABC) is optimistic that the region's economic activities will be rejuvenated with improved mobility in the region.

"Mobility is the main thing, if we want to promote anything we need to move and meet people before making friends and building trust, either to do business or consider investing," said its chairman Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg in an exclusive interview yesterday.

He was commenting on the immediate effect of Malaysia Airline's direct flights between Kuching Balikpapan and Balikpapan Kota Kinabalu.

MAS air service to Balikpapan from Kuching started on Thursday, while to Kota Kinabalu sector took effect yesterday. According to Karim, BIMP-EAGA administrative system had been restructured to make it more effective and operate as a business chamber.

He said two areas had been identified for development, namely tourism and agriculture; food industry at the Small and Medium Enterprise level.

"The reason is simple. SMEs have always been important in any nations' economy," he said.

On the Sarawak Chapter's immediate plan, he said, it was trying to make the State into a centre of excellence for training in food and hospitality industry.

"We signed an MoU with New Zealand's Christchurch Polytechnic Institute in March to offer the training in Sarawak and at the same time we are trying to develop a specific cuisine to match the continental foods," he said.

The institute, he said, was the main trainer for International Organisation of Travel Agents (IOTA) and is widely recognised by international tourist players.