LocationThe country that I have decided to examine for my tourism assessment task is the rapidly developing, and culturally unique nation of Malaysia. Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, with an area of 329,750 sq. km (127,317 sq. mi), consists of two noncontiguous areas: Peninsular Malaysia (formerly West Malaysia), on the Asian mainland, and the states of Sarawak and Sabah, known together as East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Comparatively, the area occupied by Malaysia is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico.
It is bordered on the North by Thailand, on the East by the South China Sea, on the South by the Strait of Johore, and on the West by the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea. Furthermore, Malaysia shares borders with Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, as well as maritime borders with the Philippines and Vietnam.CultureThe “Culture of Malaysia” is, due to the multiracial nature of the country, constituted by a large number of different cultures. The original culture of the region however stems from the indigenous tribes who have dwelled in the Malaysian jungles for thousands of years. Furthermore substantial influences exist from Chinese and Indian culture that fused into the original cultural traditions through extensive trade and resulting immigration. Another significant influence on Malaysian culture was its colonization of Britain from the late 18th century until its gain of independence in 1957. Religious, political and architectural aspects especially were heavily affected by this British presence.
Currently, the many different ethnicities that exist within Malaysia have managed to coexist and tolerate each other’s customs and beliefs, whilst retaining their own unique cultural identities. Thus they have formed a uniquely diverse and colorful nation that is now rapidly developing into major player in the Asian region.HistoryAs mentioned before the Malaysian people were subject to foreign colonization during the late 18th and 19th centuries. It was dominantly Great Britain that established colonies and protectorates in the area of present day Malaysia in their constant strive to cement their reputable status as a world power. These colonies were subsequently occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945 during the Second World War, only to be retained by Britain after Allied liberation in the closing stages of WWII. Following this the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya, and became independent in 1957.Soon after Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore, and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, on the northern coast of Borneo, joined the Federation.
The first several years of the country’s history were marred by a Communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singaporean secession from the Federation in 1965. Despite these constant struggles it was during the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), that Malaysia was finally successful in diversifying its economy by reducing its dependence on exports of raw materials and expanding its presence in manufacturing, services, and tourism.Economy/DevelopmentThe economy of Malaysia is one that is growing and relatively open state-oriented and is commonly classified as a newly industrialized market economy. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding of economic activity through macroeconomic plans. In 2007, the economy of Malaysia was the 3rd largest economy in South East Asia and 29th largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity. Malaysia has a gross domestic product of $222 billion with a growth rate of 5% to 7% since 2007. The Southeast Asian nation experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development during the late 20th century and has now achieved GDP per capita of $14,800, which results in Malaysia being considered as one of the most highly developed NIC’s in the Asian region. Furthermore being one of three countries that control the Strait of Malacca, international trade plays an integral part of its economy.
Since Malaysia is in the possession of large oil reservoirs as well as an immense supply of palm oil and rubber, the country has relied on the export of raw materials as their primary source of income. In fact Malaysia was, at one time, the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world. This reliability and dependency on raw material exports however have forced the government to jeopardize environmental assets that could potentially be utilized for more eco-friendly income sources like tourism. A prime example of this is the implementation of palm plantations in territories formerly rich with wildlife and rain forests.
The Malaysian government has now realized this issue and in recent years has striven to preserve their nation’s environment, and tourism is playing an ever increasing role in the country’s economic growth as a result to this change in mentality. In fact tourism has become Malaysia’s second largest source of income from foreign exchange, despite being threatened by water and air pollution from the growing industrial economy. The majority of these tourists come from its bordering country, Singapore. In 1999, Malaysia launched a worldwide marketing campaign called “Malaysia, Truly Asia” which was largely successful in bringing in over 7.4 million tourists. The economy is benefiting immensely from this surge of tourism, as it is bringing job opportunities and cash flow to the country, as well as overall development opportunities.Development Level: ModerateHDI: 0.823 rank 63rd out of 179 countriesLife expectancy at birth 2006 73.
9 yearsAdult literacy 91.5%Gross enrollment ratio in education 71.5GDP per capita PPP US$12,536From the HDI it is evident that Malaysia’s state of development is relatively high in comparison to other Asian nations in the region. Tourism is a primary tool that this country has utilized to propel itself to this level of development.
AttractionsSome of Malaysia’s Physical Attractions (environmental and/or geographical) that draw tourism include:* Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo; the largest states of Malaysia are better known as the lands of the hornbill and the orangutan. Located on the island of Borneo, they are a preferred tourist destination for those seeking culture, nature and adventure tourism. The 150 million year old rainforests of Sarawak and Sabah are the oldest in the world and in addition are home to the richest and most diverse ecosystem of the world, being one of only two regions on the planet to display the wild orangutan.* Gunung Mulu National Park; is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Sarawak on the island of Borneo that encompasses incredible cave systems that include the world’s largest cave chamber, and is also home to the Sarawak’s second highest mountain peak. The entire park is enveloped in serene and diverse rainforest, bursting with interesting wildlife.
* Mount Kinabalu; is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo and is a World Heritage Site. Kinabalu is the tallest peak in Borneo’s Crocker Range and is the 4th tallest mountain in the Malay Archipelago after Indonesian Papua’s Puncak Jaya, Puncak Trikora and Puncak Mandala. It is a popular destination for passionate mountain climbers, providing breathtaking landscape scenery, and challenging rock cliffs.
* Lang Kawi; brims with legends and folklore, culture and history and has some of the most breathtaking scenery of all the islands in the entire country. Acclaimed as a UNESCO Geopark, this is one of Malaysia’s biggest and most beautiful islands.Some of Malaysia’s Human Attractions (cultural and/or historical) that draw tourism include:* Kuala Lumpur; the chief attractions of Kuala Lumpur lie in the historical twin PETRONAS Towers that are the tallest building in the world, plenty of its colonial structures in its center, a vivacious Chinatown with street vendors all across, and a lively Little India. The city has an interesting mix of elegant architecture decorating the whole city, merging antique colonial buildings with soaring skyscrapers.* Malacca; Malacca is a delightful old town located in the south of Malaysia and is immersed in history presenting an interesting combination of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British cultures. Furthermore the city is full of maze-like Chinese streets, temples antique shops, and parts of the European colonial era.
* Georgetown; there are several attractions to wonder at in this city such as beautiful old Chinese houses, temple ceremonies, vegetable markets, trishaws, mahjong games and other aspects of Asian life.Evaluation of Malaysian Tourism IndustryThe tourism industry in Malaysia has experienced a rapid growth and gained an importance in the Malaysian economy. It is the second largest foreign exchange earner, after manufacturing and is in line with the government’s objective to accelerate the domestic private sector and stimulate the services sector that in turn will boost economic growth and development. Tourism is the countries escape from export dependency that is ruining the environment by replacing the nation’s environmental assets with raw material sources such as palm plantations. Overall the tourism industry in Malaysia is well maintained and managed in a manner that is sustainable.The beautiful rainforests and stunning reefs are now being protected through the creation of large national parks and reserves by NGO’s such as MENGO (Malaysian Environmental Non-Governmental Organization) in cooperation with the local government. Tourism in Malaysia is largely seen as a benefit as oppose to a disadvantage. It is bringing job opportunities for the local people through the opening of hotels and other leisure operation businesses, and is spurring the already booming economy by bringing foreign investment into the country.
Although some say that the increasing tourist arrivals to the country are extinguishing the established traditions of the indigenous Orang Asli, overall the Malaysian government is doing very well in using these ancient traditions as an attraction whilst keeping them intact and unchanged.Modes of TransportationThe transportation systems throughout Malaysia are highly developed and incorporate various modes of travel such as air, rail, and road. Thus getting around the country poses little difficulty due to the convenience, efficiency and affordability of each type of transport. The modes of transportation that I would utilize for my tour are primarily air, road, and water as the places that I plan to visit are most conveniently accessible through these kinds of transport.Air-The national airline, Malaysia Airlines, provides an excellent domestic link to all the major towns and cities in the country.
Kuala Lumpur is the center of this network, from which you can fly to Penang, Langkawi, Alor Setar, Ipoh, Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, and Johor Bahru. These are the major towns on the Peninsula and in addition the airline also targets the two eastern capitals of Kuching (Sarawak) and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), and so overall it provides an extensive and highly convenient travel alternative for tourists.Road-Malaysia’s road network covers 98,721 kilometers (61,342 mi), of which 80,280 kilometers (49,884 mi) are paved, and 1,821 kilometers (1,132 mi) consist of express ways, of which the longest is the North-South Express way, extending over 800 kilometers (497 mi) between the Thai and Singapore border. Although the road systems of Sabah and Sarawak are less developed and of lower quality in comparison to those of Peninsular Malaysia, overall road travel in Malaysia is convenient and efficient.
Water- Throughout the country of Malaysia, there are several islands that are accessible by ferry services. A prime example of this is the west coast island of Langkawi which has ferries shuttling to and from the mainland on a daily basis at the ease and comfort of visiting tourists. Furthermore there are long distance cruisers that take tourists along the Malaysian coast, stopping at the popular beach resort towns and dive hot spots.
Although waterways are perhaps not the most common mode of transport, it is becoming increasingly demanding as the increase in tourism throughout the country is forcing resorts and businesses to search for places that may only be accessible by boat or another vessel.Best Time to TravelMalaysian climate is predominantly subject to tropical humidity, heat and huge quantities rainfall. In fact there is no distinct change in season in Malaysian climate, and therefore any time of year is adequate for travelling to the country. Although the temperature remains at a comfortable 25 to 35 degrees all year around, there is a rainy season between the months of November and January that is perhaps not the best time to travel to the country due to frequent sea storms and river flooding. Ironically it is precisely during this timeframe that Malaysia experiences its travel peak, as huge numbers of tourists enter the country for festivities, and holidays just like New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year, and Hari Raya that all occur throughout these months of the year.Travel Frame: May to SeptemberAccommodation”Eco hotel is a term used to describe a hotel or accommodation that has made important environmental improvements to its structure in order to minimize its impact on the environment.”The hotels and activity operation businesses that I would consider for an eco-sensitive vacation in Malaysia are those that are committed to preserving the environment.
This is due to the simple reason that as a tourist I can be assured that I am not harming the environment through my activities and actions, if I am staying at a hotel, or working with an activity operation business, that has pledged to prioritize the conservation and preservation of the environment over a simplistic, capitalistic driven profit mentality. This is the absolute key to having an eco-sensitive vacation, as planning your activities with a tour company that advocates eco-tourism, is being conscious of the environment through trusting an organization that you know plans its activities in a manner that avoids environmental degradation.Furthermore eco-friendly hotels and businesses not only strive to preserve the environment, they also benefit the local people by incorporating them into their construction or management. Often eco-hotels are built by local craftsmen, who express the regions tradition and culture. Whilst this gives the hotel a charmingly unique touch, it also preserves the local culture, and profits its people through providing them with work and thus income.
This in turn fuels the country’s economy through decreasing unemployment, and consequently increasing state tax incomes and consumer purchasing. These benefits for local people may potentially not be present in large, global corporations, as these are more profit oriented, and do not prioritize the employment of local people, and the subsequent preservation of culture, tradition and environment.An eco-hotel must usually meet the following criteria:* Dependence on the natural environment* Ecological sustainability* Proven contribution to conservation* Provision of environmental training programs* Incorporation of cultural considerations* Provision of an economic return to the local communityExamples of Eco-Friendly Hotels in Malaysia:* Sukau Rainforest Lodge Borneo- this multi international award winner is owned and managed by Borneo Eco Tours. It was built in 1995 in traditional Malaysian architecture using several Borneo hardwood species. It is built on stilts with a separate lounge, restaurant, open sun-deck, river jetty, an enclosed garden and two tree platforms.
Hot water supplied by solar heaters. All rooms are twin bedded, with ceiling fan, mosquito netting, attached bathroom, hot shower and toilets. River tours are conducted by boats powered by electric motors.* Taman Negara Resort- nestled amidst the 130 million year old Malaysian rainforest; the Taman Negara Resort looks over the Taman river, and is home to a wide array of flora and fauna. The lodges and chalets incorporate local bamboo construction methods and are artistically decorated by local artists to give the resort an original and different appearance.* Sepilok Jungle Resort-this widely acclaimed eco-touristic hotel is tucked away amidst the uniquely diverse Malaysian rainforest, and is right alongside the famed Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. In an effort to support the local community, the resort is inspired by traditional Orangasli housing, and includes a restaurant revolving around local specialities.* Titi Eco Farm Resorts- nine kilometers away from Kuala Kelawang, this eco-hotel is surrounded by greenery and lakes.
Its accommodations (long house and chalets) are built with wooden structure and attap roofing, and are specially designed along the lines of a traditional kampung house to provide a sense of natural and traditional elegance to the visitors.ActivitiesNOTE: Plan all activities with Borneo Eco-Tours (An organization who prioritize sustainable tourism and offer packages that include historical and cultural sightseeing in KL or Malacca, relaxing beach holidays in Redang and Langkawi, as well as wildlife safaris in Borneo’s rainforests).* Kuala Lumpur Sightseeing; KL Tower, PETRONAS Towers, British Colonial Post Office, Chinatown, Little India, Batu Caves, and Cameron Highlands* Malacca Sightseeing; St.
Pual’s Church, Proclamation of Independence Memorial, The Stadthuys, and A’Famosa* Georgetown Sightseeing; Fort Cornwallis, Kuan Yin Temple, St George’s Church, and Penang Bridge* Redang; diving, fishing, and water sports* Kota Kinabalu; climb Mount Kinabalu* Langkawi; island hopping around archipelago, swimming, snorkeling, diving and jungle trekking* Sabah Borneo; jungle and river safari, jungle trekking, white water rafting, diving, snorkeling, turtle watching and orangutan viewingImpactTourism, and its incorporated eco-sensitive tours like mine, is currently one of the largest and dynamically developing sectors of external economic activities. Its high growth and development rates, considerable volumes of foreign currency inflows, infrastructure development, and introduction of new management and educational experience actively affect and consequently impact, various sectors of the economy, which positively contribute to the economic development of the country as a whole.From an ecological standpoint, my tour has a significant impact on the environment. It involves many activities that can have adverse environmental effects. Many of these impacts are linked with the construction of general infrastructure such as roads and airports, and of tourism facilities, including resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, golf courses and marinas. The negative impacts of tourism development can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which it depends.On the other hand, tourism has the potential to create beneficial effects on the environment by contributing to environmental protection and conservation.
It is a way to raise awareness of environmental values and it can serve as a tool to finance protection of natural areas, through the creation of national parks and reserves. My tour is part of this touristic environmental impact. For example the eco-hotels I chose as accommodation are the forefront of this raise in environmental awareness, and thus have an impact on the environment.As with the other two aspects, the social impact of tourism has both positive and negative effects. The eco-sensitive tour incorporates both, as it firstly gives the local people the opportunity to restore some of their cultural and historical assets, due to the fact that these are of touristic value.
This in turn strengthens their cultural identity, and emphasizes the traditions of their society. However the negative effect of this comes with the fact that this strengthening of identity is aided by foreign intervention. The contact between foreign visitors and local, even indigenous people, is inevitable in a country where tourism is ever increasing. Visits to the untouched forests of Sabah to experience the Orangasli traditions in my planned tour are an example of this issue of social difference.Extent of Promotion of ” Sustainable Tourism “”Sustainable tourism is an industry committed to making a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future employment for local people.
“My eco-sensitive vacation most certainly advocates and promotes sustainable tourism as the overall effects and impact of it fulfills the given definition of sustainable tourism. Firstly my eco-sensitive vacation supports the definition as it is committed to having a minimal, low impact on the environment. This is achieved by planning the tour through an operation business that is committed to doing this, as well as choosing accommodation that prioritizes the conservation and preservation of the environmental assets of the country.Furthermore my tour is also committed to preserving the Malaysian culture by visiting sites that are protected from foreign corruption and interference, and this is another crucial aspect of sustainable tourism. Finally my tour is also beneficial to the local people and economy, as it generates employment opportunities for locals that provide reasonable income and thus allows the country’s economy to be boosted.
Hotels such as Sukau River Lodge, in my tour, are prime examples of this, as they are truly committed to providing the locals with jobs and income through prioritizing the employment of locals, and working in cooperation with local businesses.