Couple unveils plan to promote cuisine tourism
AS a former chef, no one knows better how much chef's are the unsung heroes for a successful hotel or restaurant than Mansoor Jiwani. Jiwani who runs publishing firm Leisure and Travel (with his wife Nev Jiwani) that produces several magazines and directories on the tourism and travel industry has unveiled another big idea to sell services by the tourism industry - the Chef's delight awards. “The reason why Leisure and Travel has been in the tourism industry business for long is because we give value to our partners and work to ensure that we build traffic into our local hotels and restaurants,” Jiwani explains the idea behind the firm's latest project.
His wife Nev further explains that unlike previously done awards for the industry, Chef's delight will be done in eight months so as to be thorough enough and will require that clients vote for ambiance, food taste, presentation and quality of service after they have sampled services of a restaurant.
Various experts like a top international chef and a wine expert from South Africa have been recruited to guide the process but there will be no panel of judges as awards will be as per customer reviews to be vetted by an audit firm. “We do not want to do online votes or sms kind of polls because we want fairness and the idea behind the whole project is that we want to build the industry and recognize good chefs based purely on merit,” notes Nev.
Apart from improving the services and cuisines served by the local hotels, the Jiwanis also want to create a platform in which budding chefs can showcase their signature dishes. As competition among various destinations heats up, Tourism Minister Najib Balala has been at the forefront to advocate for enrichment of Kenyan cuisines to attract more visitors into the country.
The idea by the Jiwanis therefore could not have come at a better time. “Cuisine tourism is very much on demand these days, the same way people go to certain places for good nyama choma is the same way the various cuisines offered by hotels will sell them and create a chance for them to create loyal customers,” remarks Nev.
“Today the spending power of people and the number of restaurants has quadrupled that is why there is need for restaurants to up their game to give people value for money,” notes Jiwani. Chef's delight will first be held in Nairobi and with time will be rolled out in the entire country so as to keep these businesses on their toes to ensure that customers get value for money. “People do not go out to restaurants just to eat because they are hungry they go there to get the ultimate dining experience,” says Jiwani.
The Jiwani's have been running Leisure and Travel publisher of famous tourism directories Go Places. The firm publishes a hotel and restaurant directory complete with a cuisine section to guide tourists on where to find different types of dishes. “When tourists come into the country, it is a very valuable book for them,” Nev says.
The directories also contain some tourism articles and news on the industry. So good are the publications that they the Jiwani's were once nominated for an award in London yet they had not entered any competition. “The directories and magazines are circulated to embassies in the country to help expatriate staff around restaurants and hotels in the country. I believe that one embassy may have forwarded our publication to the international quality crown awards in London,” Jiwani says.
The couple that went on to win that award in 2006 reveal that they were awed further when upon reaching London, the found the latest issues of Go Places publications at the ceremony. They had no idea how the organizers had gotten those issues there in London that fast. The directories are distributed for free in airports, hotels and in multinational companies operating in the country. Advertisements by various tourism businesses is what sustains the directories.
To sustain the business, the Jiwani's have gone an extra mile in ensuring that advertising hotels and restaurants build traffic into their establishments. “We give a lot of value addition like sometimes we make bookings for clients on our database to thee hotels,” reveals Nev. The firm makes a minimum of 500 bookings per day to various hotels and restaurants. Leisure and Travel company also has a day call centre that clients can call in to inquire for bookings and staff at the company make bookings on their behalf. The firm acts like a mini tourism information centre.
Nev an ex International Air Transport Association employee and Jiwani a former lecturer at Utalii College are indeed a power couple vital to the growth of business in the tourism industry. Though they have overseen many brilliant ideas to fruition, the two says there is no stopping any time soon as tourism is their passion and its growth is their joy.