Jimenez wants to make Madrid Fusión Manila a yearly tourism show

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is working toward making Madrid Fusión Manila (MFM) an annual event.

This was disclosed by Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. in a recent interview with select reporters on the sidelines of the MFM at the SMX Convention Center.

What’s definite is that there will be an MFM in 2016. In his closing remarks at the MFM on Sunday, Jimenez said his gratitude toward the local and foreign organizers of the three-day event, the participating chefs/speakers, and the delegates to the International Gastronomy Congress: “As everyone in this room knows, it’s difficult to express yourself when your mouth is full, but it is so easy to be profuse with thanks when your heart is full.

“We will probably keep talking about this [MFM] in the months to come.  And I’ve already resolved that when my boss, President Aquino asks me, ‘Mon, what’s cooking? I will have one definite answer—‘Sir, what’s cooking is Madrid Fusión Manila 2016.”

Separately, he told reporters that “we’re hoping to do it annually. There’s every intention to do it annually. Judging from the success of this event so far, I think we can.”

The DOT is trying to attract 8.2 million foreign travelers this year, dubbed “Visit Philippines Year 2015.” With the holding of the recent MFM, the DOT hopes to position Manila as the center of gastronomy in Southeast Asia, and thus attract travelers going on food trips.

Sources in the organizing committee intimated that the event will be held starting April 15, 2016, at the same venue.

Jimenez boasted that the Manila event was able to collect the most number of Michelin-starred chefs “in a single time anywhere in Southeast Asia.” In the culinary world, the Michelin Guide is an important benchmark for restaurants, indicating whether their establishments are worth the while of diners. Most of the Spanish and Asian chefs invited to speak at the gastronomy congress have two or three Michelin stars.

(See “Manila to claim billing as center of modern gastronomy in Asean,” in the BusinessMirror, April 23, 2015.)

He added that getting the Philippine restaurants included in the Michelin Guide “is my next project.”

The MFM attracted chefs, bakers, culinary students, food suppliers and retailers to the gastronomy congress, paying P11,000 to P20,000 per person just to attend the sessions.

The restaurant industry in the Philippines is one of the most vibrant and dynamic contributors to the growth of the economy.

Latest data on the restaurants from the Philippine Statistics Authority show restaurants, bars, canteens and other drinking and eating places generate revenues of P163.85 billion in 2009. But the total value added for this sector reached P46.2 billion.

There were 13,348 restaurants, bars, canteens, and other drinking and eating places that same year which recorded 234,413 employees. Total compensation paid to these employees reached P22 billion.


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