Rachel Yong Yuen May & *Muhammad Safuan Abdul Latip
Gastronomic tourism is a strong motivator for tourists to visit destinations famous for their cuisine and street food. Street food is a socially and culturally recognised food source that is inexpensive, easy, and appealing for both urban and rural populations worldwide. As a unique destination attractor, street food can be a useful tool in marketing destinations. In Malaysia, the street food sector is one of the many industries that employs many foreign workers to resolve its labour shortage due to Malaysia’s rapid economic growth and demand for unskilled workers. Regrettably, foreign workers have contributed considerably towards the total number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia. This research explores street food traders’ perspective regarding the hiring of foreign workers for their stalls during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on these workers. Using the theory of planned behaviour as the underlying theory, researchers obtained qualitative data from in-depth interviews with eight street food traders and five foreign workers from October to December 2020. The thematic analysis of the interview data was done using NVivo 12 Pro. The findings provide some insights on the motivations for recruiting foreign workers in terms of attitude, perceived social pressure and perceived behavioural control. In light of the findings, the government should review its foreign workforce and design nuanced policies to accommodate the labour needs of specific economic sectors while striving towards reducing foreign labour dependence.
Keywords: Foreign workers, street food, perspective, theory of planned behaviour, COVID-19.