By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Thai restaurant enterprises have been urged to set up business in Maldives amid high demand for authentic, quality Thai foods.
Piramol Charoenpao, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Trade Negotiations Department, said plenty of opportunities were waiting for Thai enterprises in this archipelago.
Many restaurants in Male, the capital of Maldives, claim to serve Thai foods. However, most are not owned by Thais. Some dishes have been modified and lack the original flavour. Most restaurants do not even employ a Thai chef.
“The relevant [Thai] government agencies should promote the establishment of Thai restaurants in many tourists destinations, including Maldives. Many Thai businesses, particularly those involved with hospitality and services, should be encouraged to invest overseas to enhance the country’s revenue and fame,” Piramol said.
The Department of International Trade Promotion has a certification protocol for quality Thai restaurants worldwide to guarantee quality Thai foods and authentic flavour. However, Thai restaurants in Maldives have not yet been certified.
Piramol said government officials would soon visit Maldives and either cooperate in the training of chefs or send Thai chefs there.
Thomas Stahl, the German owner of Sala Thai Restaurant in Male, claimed that his restaurant was one of the most popular in the country.
He said most restaurants in the islands did not employ a Thai chef or use ingredients from Thailand. Thus the flavour of their food was not authentic.
Stahl said his restaurant employed three Thai chefs. It normally imports ingredients directly from Thailand once a week.
The establishment of direct flights from Thailand has saved time and maintained the quality of ingredients from Thailand. The flight from Bangkok takes about four and a half hours.
However, he said the Maldives government had made it difficult for enterprises in the islands to employ foreign workers. For instance, to employ one foreign worker, the restaurant needs to pay a fee of US$1,000 (Bt30,000) to the government.
The cost of leasing land is also quite high. To establish a 50-seat restaurant, Stahl’s initial capital investment was $350,000. He has also invested up to $1 million on decorating the restaurant.
Stahl, who lived in Thailand for more than 10 years, fell in love with Thai food. Its unique flavour and healthy nutrition inspired him to set up a Thai restaurant in Maldives in 2006.