PALAU ENCOURAGES SERVING LOCAL FOOD TO TOURISTS

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 25) – A key factor seen to help improve the tourism industry in Palau is to showcase local food and delicacy to foreign guests.

Catering tourists with local delicacies and how to improve packaging the cultural way are the main goals of the Agro-Tourism Project being undertaken by the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) and the Bureau of Agriculture (BOA).

On Friday May 18, the TTM and the BOA conducted a local food demonstration at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center that showcased the foods prepared by the women from Ngatpang and Aimeliik States.

Travel agents and State leaders as well as representatives from hotels, Palau Visitors Authority and the Belau Tourism Association were invited to give their opinions and suggestions about the project.

Several menus prepared from Ngatpang were in lunch boxes (bento) worth US$6 or up to US$10 (choice of three kinds of Ongraol, choice of three kinds of Odioim, choice of three kinds of dessert, choice of soup, salad, choice of drink) or from Aimeliik worth US$7 -- 2 pcs. Belsiich (pound taro with coconut syrup), 2 pcs. Cherredoched el kukau (fired taro), 6 pcs. Cherredoched el ngikel (fried fish), 1 sc. Fkas el malk (steamed chicken), 1 Cheluit el kim (clam with coconut milk), 2 pcs Cherredoched el liud (fried oyster), 1 Bobai el salad (papaya salad), Kang kum salad, kiuri salad (cucumber salad), rodech (seasonal fruits), 1 Choice of drink (Mengur or Amra fruit juice).

These and other items that are unique in Palau present a good source of income to the local food industry.

Understandably, the seafood items are the main courses as BTA’s Leilani Reklai aptly puts it "seafood are considered as a high quality food in other countries but "we served the meat instead" which are not locally available.

Taiwan Ambassador Matthew S. Lee in his special remarks said that the Agro-Tourism Project is just the latest venture on environmental protection and economic development – by helping farmers to develop new market and educate tourist to better understand Palauan culture, art and history.

"Everyone knows the magnificence of Palau at sea. The goal now is to share the wonders of Palau on land," Lee said.

Lee identified two main reasons in pushing the agro-tourism project – one, is that the art of eating is the important part of Asian culture, How to eat always plays a key role in Asian people’s tourism itinerary; two, when we visit a new place, we always ask "could you recommend the best local food for us? I personally have traveled more than 80 countries, every time I did that."

The national government, Minister of Resources and Development Fritz Koshiba said, gives its 110 percent support to the project because this will definitely boost the tourism industry and increase earnings for the people and the government.

TTM Leader D. Ming-Lii Hseu said the project’s main base at the Nekken Farm in Aimeliik, where tourists could taste all these local food products, will be formally opened next month.

Hseau said they are pushing the project in a step-by-step process. Last Friday’s demonstration has three main purposes – to introduce the local food from Ngatpang and Aimeliik; for other States to do the same; and to train those who are involved in this project.

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