Malaysia has long been one of the world’s best kept tourism secrets. It is an ideal tourism destination in so many different respects as it offers a wide range of diverse attraction to suit all tastes and most importantly, at relatively affordable prices. Figure 1: Map of Malaysia Lying just north of the equator, Malaysia is located at the south of Cambodia and Vietnam and north of Singapore and Indonesia. More than one thousand islands are part of Malaysia with some 38 designated as marine parks. Parts of the primeval rainforest are more than 100 million years old with a dazzling selection of birds and wildlife.
Malaysia has superb golden beaches, lush vegetation, mountains and fabulous shopping allied to some magnificent hotels. This has made the country the fastest growing destination in South East Asia. The mix of the ancient and the ultra-modern make Malaysia a fascinating place to visit, while the low cost of living and huge visitor choice makes it an ideal holiday location. Malaysia has a tropical climate throughout the year, enjoying warm days and mild evenings in all seasons. English is widely spoken in Malaysia, although the national language is Malay.
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In addition, the country also offers a fascinating cultural mix with colorful festivals, unique arts and crafts, architecture, food and a rich array of dance forms. Malaysia is ideally placed to take advantage of its increased interest in the tourism industry, especially ecotourism segment, as it possesses a wide variety of natural land and marine habitats, spectacular wildlife, diverse indigenous ethnic groups and cultures, and a rich history. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) stated that that the future prospects for Travel & Tourism industry of Malaysia are good.
There is a widespread recognition of its contribution to the national economy, and the Malaysian Government at its highest level is fully committed to the long-term development of the industry. OBJECTIVES The objective of this assignment is to examine the impacts that tourism could bring to the country of Malaysia. These impacts are categorized into economical impacts, environmental impacts, political impacts, and also socio-cultural impacts. Malaysia is chosen as a research target because Malaysia’s tourism is at a developing stage and it would be important to figure out what impacts stem from tourism that the country has to deal with.
Lastly, a number of recommendations as to the future of Malaysia are presented. ECONOMICAL IMPACTS Tourism was virtually unknown in Malaysia until the late-1960s. Since then it has developed into a major sector of the economy. In 1980, Malaysia attracted a fairly modest 2. 3 million international tourist arrivals. Ten years later, the total had more than tripled and the country appeared to be firmly established on the world tourism map. Tourism industry of Malaysia is one of the most important sectors contributing to the economy and is the second largest foreign exchange earner after the manufacturing industry.
The country considers tourism as a generation of foreign exchange, increasing employment, fostering regional/ rural development and diversifying the country’s economic base. Travel & Tourism is seen by the government as one of the keys to promoting a greater understanding of the various cultures and lifestyles of Malaysia’s multi-ethnic population. Employment Generation The rapid expansion of international tourism has led to significant employment creation. The employment categories of the Travel and Tourism Economy of Malaysia include: -Travel companies employment; Government agencies employment; and -Supplier companies employment The first category (Travel companies employment) represents Travel and Tourism Industry jobs, while all three categories represent Travel and Tourism Economy jobs. Figure 2: Malaysia Travel & Tourism Employment Sources: World Travel & Tourism Council According to the research of World Travel & Tourism Council (2002), Malaysia Travel and Tourism Economy employment is estimated at 1,345,000 jobs in 2006, 12. 6% of total employment. By 2016, this should total 1,818,000 jobs, 13. % of total employment. The Travel and Tourism Industry jobs account for 4. 6% of total employment in 2006 and are forecast to increase to total 663,000 jobs for 5. 1% of the total by 2016. Tourism can generate jobs directly through hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, taxis and souvenir sales, and indirectly through the supply of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) needed by tourism-related businesses. Contribution to government revenues Government revenues from the tourism sector can be categorized as direct and indirect contributions.
Direct contributions are generated by taxes on incomes from tourism employment and tourism businesses, and by direct levies on tourist such as departure taxes (UNEP Tourism, 2001). Indirect contributions are those originated from taxes and duties levied on goods and services supplied to tourists (UNEP Tourism, 2001). According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (2002), in Malaysia, the largest portion of this total is from indirect taxes paid in connection with visitor purchases of goods and services. Next in size is of corporate income taxes paid by Travel and Tourism businesses and suppliers.
Personal taxes are paid by Travel and Tourism generated employment, and other taxes include oil and stamp taxes. For instance, when all totaled, the Travel & Tourism Economy was responsible for 10. 5% of total taxes paid in 2001. Over the next ten years, Malaysia’s Travel & Tourism tax contribution is expected to increase to US$2. 7 billion. By 2010, the tourism industry will account for 11. 5% of Malaysia’s tax revenue. Contribution to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) The tourism industry is a high growth activity. For Malaysia, the tourism industry is expected to contribute to 4. 6% to Gross Domestic Product in 2006 (US$6. billion), rising in nominal terms to US$16. 6 billion (4. 8% of total) by 2016 (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2006). Travel and Tourism is a major exporter, with inbound visitors injecting foreign exchange directly into the economy. Tourism exports make up a very important contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of total Malaysian exports, services and merchandise. In 2001, Travel and Tourism services and merchandise exports for Malaysia accounted US$10. 3 billion (64% by visitors, 36% by exported consumer and capital goods) and represented 56% of total Travel and Tourism Demand.
Based on the forecasts of World Travel & Tourism Council, Malaysia Travel and Tourism is expected to generate 10% of total exports (US$18. 1 billion) in 2006, growing to US$49. 3 billion (11. 1% of total in 2016). Capital investments Travel and Tourism industry is a catalyst for construction and manufacturing. In 2006, private and public sectors combined are expected to spend US$7 billion in year 2006 in which there is an increase of capital investment of US$4. 1 billion since 2001. By 2016, this should reach US$17. 5 billion of capital investment in Travel and Tourism infrastructure.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS CONTRIBUTION OF TOURISM TO THE ENVIRONMENT 1. Development of infrastructure and facilities The development of tourism works as a catalyst for private and public organizations to invest in infrastructure development. As ecotourism is becoming increasingly important, communication and transport facilities are built to bring conveniences to eco-tourists in reaching their destinations. For instance, the development of Mulu Airport has provided better facilities for the local residents and also brought opportunities for business investors. 2. Direct financial contribution
Tourism can contribute directly to the conservation of sensitive areas and habitat. Revenue from park-entrance fees and similar sources can be allocated specifically to pay for the protection and management of environmentally sensitive areas. Special fees for park operations or conservation activities can also be collected from tourists of tour operators. 3. Environmental awareness rising Tourism has the potential to increase public appreciation of the environment and to spread awareness of environmental problems when it brings people into closer contact with nature and the environment (UNEP, 2001).
This confrontation may heighten awareness of the value of nature and lead to environmentally conscious behavior and activities to preserve the environment. However, in the case of Malaysia, the tourism industry especially ecotourism is just at a developing stage. Despite the fact that the government of Malaysia is taking the conservation of environment seriously, the local people still have a long way to go in awareness of environmental issues. 4. Protection and preservation Tourism can significantly contribute to environmental protection, conservation and restoration of biological diversity and sustainable use of natural resources.
Because of their attractiveness, pristine sites and natural areas are identified by the Malaysian government as valuable and realizing the need to keep the attraction alive in order to lead to creation of national parks and wildlife parks. According to Mohamed (2002), the National Ecotourism Plan of Malaysia which was plotted by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism in 1997, consists of 25 guidelines which cover the aspects of sustainable tourism such as categorizing sites and activities; carrying capacity and limits of acceptable change; marine parks and island; ational parks and reserves, mangroves, use of local accommodation, accreditation of ecotourism products and etc. PHYSICAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM ON ENVIRONMENT 1. Construction activities and infrastructure development The development of tourism facilities such as accommodation, water supplies, restaurants and recreation facilities can involve sand mining, beach and sane dune erosion, soil erosion and extensive paving. In addition, road and airport construction can lead to land degradation and loss of wildlife habitats and deterioration of scenery.
Unfortunately, many aspects of Malaysia’s environment on the local front is still being exploited and degraded by irresponsible parties. When environmental degradation becomes serious, it may cause disasters such as landslide hazards. Example of landslides are such as the Genting Highland landslide tragedy in July 1995 which killed 20 persons and injured 23 others; Pos Dipang landslide in August 1996 which killed 39 aboriginal people (with another five still missing); and the spate of landslides in Cameron Highlands (a highland resort) in which one person was buried alive and hundreds were evacuated (Ngai, 1998). . Deforestation and intensified and unsustainable use of land Construction of accommodation and facilities frequently requires clearing forested land. In Malaysia, these can cause severe disturbance to the indigenous people and erosion of the local system, even destruction in the long term. For instance, deforestation at the area of Kelabit Highland has caused sadness and frustration among the Kelabits at the prospect of the disappearance of their communal forests in the near future. Their greatest concerns appear to be the future of rice growing in the area (Rodger, 2005).
Rice growing may also be at risk due to the possible pollution and sedimentation of waterways. 3. Impacts from marine activities In marine areas (around coastal waters, reefs, beach and shoreline, offshore waters, uplands and lagoons) many tourist activities occur in or around fragile ecosystems. Snorkeling, sport fishing, and scuba diving, yachting and cruising are some of the activities that can cause direct degradation of marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, and subsequent impacts on coastal protection and fisheries.
According to Mohamed (2002), the coral island of Payar island (off Langkawi Island) has reached its carrying capacity and there is not any halt in the promotion of the island. In addition, there is not also a proper measure taken to limit the number of visitors to this fragile island. Other important sectors such as fisheries would also be adversely affected (Lim, 1998). 4. Alteration of ecosystems by tourist activities Habitat can be degraded by tourism leisure activities.
For example, wildlife viewing can bring about stress for the animals and alter their natural behavior when tourists come too close. This puts high pressure on animal habits and behaviors and tends to bring about behavioral changes. For instance, turtle nesting viewing may bring pollution to the beaches which may affect the natural habitat as the mother turtle needs a quiet, clean and dark place to nest (WWF Malaysia). POLITICAL IMPACTS Investment in Tourism Infrastructure The growth potential of the tourism industry continues to attract a substantial amount of private sector investment.
To accelerate private investment in the tourism industry, two special funds were launched in 2001, namely the Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) and Special Fund for Tourism and Infrastructure (Special Fund). Major projects under these funds included resorts development, renovation and refurbishment of hotels as well as provision of related infrastructure and services. Improvements are also made to public amenities including upgrading and beautification of selected tourism sites as well as the restoration of historical buildings and sites.
Besides that, the government will also continue to expand and upgrade infrastructure and communications facilities, which among others, supports the growth of the tourism sector. Improvements to land, rail and sea transportation contributed to increase domestic tourism as well as cross border tourists from Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, and Kalimantan, Indonesia. Safety and Security The government sees safety and security as an integral part of the travel and tourism industry.
The Malaysian government is committed to visitor safety and following the tragic events in Indonesia (Bali) the government has put in place extensive measures to combat terrorism. Malaysia is considered a safe destination, the UK Foreign Office stated – ‘we are not aware of any current, specific threat to British nationals and interests in Malaysia’. In the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006 – 2010), increased efforts will be undertaken to ensure that tourists see Malaysia is a safe and pleasant place to visit. The tourist police force will be strengthened to provide increased security to tourists.
At the same time, the country will also capitalize on its political stability and ambience of diverse racial harmony to reinforce the country’s image as a tourist-friendly destination. Marketing Strategies and Promotion In an effort to position Malaysia as a premier tourist destination in the region, the Malaysian government in collaboration with the private sector intensified promotional and marketing activities. The country leveraged on the tagline, ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’, first introduced in 1999, which is internationally recognized as a uniquely Malaysian brand.
In addition, to raise awareness among the industry front liners and tourism-related personnel as to the importance of the tourism industry, several campaigns such as ‘Think Tourism’, and ‘Malaysia Welcomes the World’ were launched. Sustainable Tourism Development As sustainable tourism is increasingly important, the government is also putting attention on this context. In the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006 – 2010), emphasis will be given on preserving and enhancing existing natural and cultural assets that are susceptible to environmental damage.
Local authorities and communities will be encouraged to be more actively involved in project preparation, implementation and maintenance to ensure adverse environmental impact is minimized. The providers of tourism products and services will also be taken into account the specific criteria and guidelines on carrying capacity of environmentally sensitive tourist areas such as islands, highlands and coastal areas. SOCIO-CULTURAL IMPACTS Undoubtedly, the tourism industry can actually bring a lot of benefits to the society.
Travel and Tourism enables the aboriginal people to promote their culture and customs, letting people around the world to know the existence of the fascinating attraction they could offer. As for indigenous people living at suburban district, they can exchange cultural knowledge with the tourists. Through the interaction with the tourists, they get to learn new things. Most importantly, it helps to generate job opportunities to the local people where they can sell their crafts and art works as souvenirs. This in turn will help to increase their standards of living.
Contradictory, tourism can also bring negative impacts to the socio-cultural of Malaysia. These impacts are presented as the following. Loss of Authenticity The local people tend to adapt to cultural expressions and manifestations to the tastes of tourists or even performing cultural shows as if they were ‘real life’. For instance, according to Yea (2002), in Malaysia, some tour operators that are responsible for promotion, packaging and transportation of tourists to the longhouses, persistently threaten to cease tours, or refuse to start tours to longhouses unless certain ‘terms’ are met.
These usually imply substantial alterations to existing longhouse structures to make them appear more authentic and traditional. For the tourists, they just want a glimpse of the local atmosphere and take a quick glance at the local life. Tourism is then turning the local cultures into commodities when religious rituals, traditional ethnic rites and festivals are modified to conform to tourist expectations resulting an inauthentic culture. Adaptation to Tourist Demands Tourists want souvenirs, arts, and crafts.
In many tourist destinations, craftsmen have responded to the growing demand and have made changes in design of their products to suit the tourists’ tastes. In short, cultural erosion may occur due to the commodification of cultural goods. Irritation Due to Tourists Behavior Tourists often out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect local customs and moral values. When they do, they can bring irritation to the local people. In Malaysia, some islands or resorts forbid tourists to wear bikini at public areas as it might antagonize the local culture and religion.
Apart from that, as ecotourism is becoming important and popular, the indigenous people have become an ‘object’ or ‘product’ to be gazed by the visitors. The tourists just take a quick snapshot and are gone. Such action can invade the local people’s lives. Cultural Deterioration Taking the case of Mulu National Park (Miri) the increasing number of visitors who go to the park has indirectly transformed their lives towards modern styles, as inevitably take place in any tourist destination, and major changes in their lifestyle causes great concern for the elders.
Those involved with tourists in particular will tend to emulate foreign lifestyles, especially the younger generation. Drinking, taking drugs, and gambling are becoming problems and the young seek to acquire goods and fashionable clothing to emulate tourists. With exposure to modern and easy ways of life, young people have neglected their culture and traditions that were practiced by their parents, especially weaving and making handicrafts. Cultural performances are regarded as old fashioned, where in the past such performances were held with pride and highly praised among the local communities.
Conflicts with Traditional Land-use Conflicts arise when the choice has to be made between development of the land for tourist facilities or infrastructure and local traditional land-use. The indigenous population of such destinations is frequently the loser in the contest for these resources as the economic value which tourism brings often counts more. Local Residents Being Treated Unfairly Local residents are sometimes being treated unfairly especially at tourist destinations area.
Tourism business operators tend to neglect the interest and rights of the local people as they may think that tourists could generate more profit. For example, the development of airport and flights to Miri (Sarawak) are welcome improvements, however, the local people complain that they sometimes have problems getting on the planes because priority is given to visitors (Malang, 2001). The consequences may cause disappointment because the local people may felt that they were not getting fair share of benefits compared with the outsiders. RECOMMENDATIONS 1.
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS AND INTEREST OF THE LOCAL PEOPLE While seeing tourism industry as a tool for foreign exchange earnings, the government should not neglect the rights and interest of the local people. The tourism businesses/ organization should treat both visitors and local people fairly. The tourism industry should foresee that if the local people do not get their fair benefit, they may then find tourists as irritating; this can in turn create a bad impression to the tourists. 2. RESPONSIBLE OF TOUR GUIDES In order to enhance sustainable tourism, tour guides play a very important role.
They should be responsible in informing tourists on what they should do and should not do when they’re at certain destinations. For instance, how they should watch their conduct, behavior, and appearance when they’re at a destination where the local community is more conservative so that not to antagonize the local customs and also to show their respects to the locals. 3. DEALING WITH THE SMOKE HAZARD One of the biggest problems that the Malaysian Government has to face is the smoke of the forest fire from its neighbor country – Indonesia.
The smoke hazard has created the country’s worst pollution in years. The source of the haze is Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, where farmers, plantation owners and miners have set hundreds of fires in the forests to clear land during dry weather. Winds blow most of the fumes across the narrow Strait of Malacca to Malaysia, although parts of Indonesia are also affected. The worst previous haze crisis was in 1997-98, also caused by Indonesian forest fires. Undoubtedly, the smoke problem has become a threat to tourism and health.
The government should be aware of the issue. Cooperating with neighbor countries that are affected might help to tackle the issue effectively. 4. PROMOTE RESPONSIBILITY IN NATURAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT The government should ensure that the socio-economic, cultural and environmental benefits of the tourism industry are spread equitably across the nation and actively encourage local community engagement and empowerment. This can be done by providing incentives for local community-based sustainable tourism enterprises. 5. CREATING AN IMAGE
Malaysia is also facing another problem, which is failure in developing a clear product appeal. It does not have the draw of Bangkok’s nightlife, nor Singapore’s entertainment possibilities. As a result, Malaysia could be lagged behind its competition of neighbor countries. Therefore, when creating a marketing strategy, it is essential for the industry to analyze the importance of creating an image. CONCLUSION In conclusion, we can say that Malaysia’s tourism is at a developing stage and the country’s future prospect for Travel and Tourism are good.
In conjunction with the coming with the upcoming Visit Malaysia 2007, the country is expecting an increasing number of international tourists. However, despite the fact that ecotourism is growing and is becoming the buzz word nowadays, it is obvious that lots of things need to be done especially in fostering the understanding of the local market as well as the private sector regarding ecotourism and Malaysia still has to put a lot of effort to achieve sustainable tourism. BIBLIOGRAPHY 9th Malaysian Plan (2006), Chapter 8 – Realizing Tourism Potential.
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World Travel & Tourism Council (2006) ‘Malaysia – The Impact of Travel & Tourism on Jobs and the Economy’. Available at: http://www. wttc. org/2006TSA/pdf/Malaysia. pdf. (Accessed: 27 November 2006) WWF Malaysia, ‘Ma’ Daerah Turtle Sanctuary’ Creature Feature. Available at: http://www. wwfmalaysia. org/rangers/creature/turtle/MaDaerah. html. (Accessed: 13 December 2006) Yea, Sallie (2002), ‘On and off the ethnic tourism map in Southeast Asia: the case of Iban longhouse tourism, Sarawak, Malaysia’, Tourism Geographies.