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Women Empowerment through Ecotourism Activities in Lower Kinabatangan Area of Sabah, East Malaysia

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Abstract

In Malaysia, women participation in ecotourism activities is a growing phenomenon, yet studies in this area are still in their infancy. Consequently, this paper seeks to identify women participation in ecotourism activities that empower them to be involved actively. Guided by Scheyvens's Empowerment Framework (SEF), this study has identified several factors that contributed positively towards their participation in ecotourism activities as well as empower them at four levels such as psychological, social, political and economic. This study was carried out in Abai Village, Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, from September to November 2014. Primary data were collected through face-to-face in-depth interviews with the women who were engaged in ecotourism activities in Abai Village. In addition, field observations and secondary resources were also utilised to strengthen the research findings. The findings revealed that, women in Abai Village are seriously and actively involved in ecotourism activities, and then this involvement has directly or indirectly empowered them aforementioned empowerment's levels. This study has significant contributions to the tourism industry in Malaysia, where women participation in development projects such as ecotourism activities in rural areas of Malaysia enhances their lifestyle politically, economically, psychologically and socially.
Women Empowerment through Ecotourism Activities in
Lower Kinabatangan Area of Sabah, East Malaysia
Velan Kunjuraman*
Rosazman Hussin
Universiti Malaysia Sabah
*Corresponding author: velan1199@gmail.coma
ABSTRACT
In Malaysia, women participation in ecotourism activities is a growing
phenomenon, yet studies in this area are still in their infancy. Consequently,
this paper seeks to identify women participation in ecotourism activities that
empower them to be involved actively. Guided by Scheyvens’s Empowerment
Framework (SEF), this study has identified several factors that contributed
positively towards their participation in ecotourism activities as well as
empower them at four levels such as psychological, social, political and
economic. This study was carried out in Abai Village, Lower Kinabatangan,
Sabah, from September to November 2014. Primary data were collected
through face-to-face in-depth interviews with the women who were engaged
in ecotourism activities in Abai Village. In addition, field observations and
secondary resources were also utilised to strengthen the research findings.
The findings revealed that, women in Abai Village are seriously and actively
involved in ecotourism activities, and then this involvement has directly
or indirectly empowered them aforementioned empowerment’s levels. This
study has significant contributions to the tourism industry in Malaysia, where
women participation in development projects such as ecotourism activities
in rural areas of Malaysia enhances their lifestyle politically, economically,
psychologically and socially.
Keywords: women empowerment; abai village; ecotourism activities;
participation.
Received: September 2016 Published: January 2017
INTRODUCTION
Tourism has been considered a signicant income contributor to the country
and can make a tremendous contribution to people’s lives as well as to the
environment (Jucan & Jucan, 2013). It is also widely acknowledged that
tourism is a fast growing industry and is growing with a great pace (Dogra
& Gupta, 2012). To many developing countries basically they are utilizing
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JGD Vol. 13. Issue 1, January 2017 135-148
tourism as an important tool to increase domestic and foreign investment
(Akama, 2002; Jenskins, 1982; Hitchcock, King & Parnwell, 2009;
Campbell, 1999), job opportunities (Yacob, et al. 2007), development of
infrastructure and communication facilities (Bhuiyan, et al. 2011), foreign
exchange earnings for a country (Magigi & Ramadhani, 2013), as well as
local community development (Hussin, 2008, 2009; Magigi & Ramadhani,
2013). Tourism sector in Malaysia can be categorised as at a decent level.
This can be proved by the number of tourist arrivals in the country which
has increased by 25.03 million, registering a total expenditure of MYR60.6
billion (USD 46.26 billion) in 2012 differing from the previous year, which
only recorded a turnover of 24.71 million tourist arrivals and total expenditure
of MYR58.3 billion (Tourism Malaysia, 2014). Therefore, tourism has the
same great potential compared to other sectors such as manufacturing and
agricultural sectors.
Table 1
Tourists Arrivals and Receipts to Malaysia (2006-2012)
Year Arrivals Receipts (RM)
2012 25.03 Million 60.6 Billion
2011 24.71 Million 58.3 Billion
2010 24.58 Million 56.5 Billion
2009 23.65 Million 53.4 Billion
2008 22.05 Million 49.6 Billion
2007 20.97 Million 46.1 Billion
2006 17.55 Million 36.3 Billion
Source: www.tourism.gov.my
The tourism sector in Malaysia is a growing sector and the role to be played
by the government is increasingly important. The Malaysian government is
apprehensive in introducing effective measures to advance of the tourism
sector for the economic benets. The government has introduced a number
of policies to promote the development of tourism, such as Malaysia
Plan Outline, Outline of the Tenth Malaysia’s Economic Transformation
Program (ETP), National Tourism Policy (NTP), National Physical Planning
and Local Agenda 21 (LA 21). The main agency in the tourism sector in
Malaysia is the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, better known
as MOTAC. Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia serves as a catalyst
for broader measures that could increase the potential of Malaysia’s tourism
sector at the stage of the world. In order to efciently launch the progress of
the implementation of these measures, the government has sufcient funds
and adequate infrastructure to develop the tourism sector (Bhuiyan, Siwar
JGD Vol. 13. Issue 1, January 2017
134
& Ismail, 2013). By 2020, the tourism industry in Malaysia has aimed to
contribute MYR103.6 billion (USD 32.37 billion) in Gross National Income
and tourist arrivals are expected to be 36 million (Nair, Munikrishnan,
Rajaratnam & King, 2014). The Malaysian government gives serious
attention in the development of tourism in order to achieve this target.
In relation to this, the rural tourism products in Malaysia mainly
include homestays, ecotourism, agrotourism, cultural and heritage-based
tourism, have the great potential to generate income and economic benets
to the country, as well as enhancing the local community livelihoods.
Ecotourism in Malaysia is a growing sector and was recognised in the
national development plans such as the National Ecotourism Plan 1996. The
National Ecotourism Plan was developed and intended to provide a general
framework to assist the government to develop the country’s ecotourism
potential. This plan was developed on the basis of economic, socio-cultural
and environmental concern and to sustain prots. Government agency that
is responsible to implement this National Ecotourism Plan 1996 is also the
Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) by ensuring that the
ecotourism activities are in line with the objective of the plan.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Gender and Tourism
Previous studies have mentioned that the tourism is a tool for economic,
social and political empowerment of women (Scheyvens, 1999; Jucan &
Jucan, 2013). The engagement of women in tourism activities is essential
and can be seen in the development policies. In United Nation’s Millennium
Development Goal (MDG), ve out of eight goals are directly and indirectly
related to women empowerment (Jucan & Jucan, 2013). As Ferguson (2007)
stated, women engagement in tourism development have been considered
vital for current era and being acknowledged by United Nation World
Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Moreover, Ferguson claimed that tourism
development may, in theory, contribute to gender equality and women’s
empowerment policies are vital to be introduced in order to achieve the
objectives of the development policies. Although, the global development
policies have recognised women’s participation in tourism policies, the
studies regarding to what extent women being empowered by the tourism is
paid less attention to in previous literatures with a few exceptions (Osman,
Ahmad, Ahmad, Husin, Abu Bakar & Tanwir, 2009; Isaac & Conrad-J.
Wuleka, 2012; Rout & Mohanty, 2015). In Malaysia, studies on women
participation in ecotourism activities is a growing phenomenon, yet studies
135
in this area are still in their infancy. To bridge the gap, this research adopted
Scheyvens’s Empowerment Framework (1999) which determines four
dimensions of empowerment: economic, psychological, social and political.
This study’s framework is to examine how ecotourism activities can enhance
women empowerment in relation to tourism development and management
from the local’s perspective. Therefore, to achieve the research objectives of
this study, a case of Abai Village in the Lower Kinabatangan of Sabah has
been selected.
The Concept of Empowerment in Tourism Studies
The concept of empowerment in tourism studies have been popularised by
Scheyvens in year 1999. She has published her work entitled ‘ecotourism
and the empowerment of local communities’ in Tourism Management
Journal. For Scheyvens (1999) the empowerment framework could provide
a mechanism to measure effectiveness of ecotourism initiatives with regards
to tourism impacts on local community (Scheyvens, 1999). By having this
empowerment framework, community based ecotourism actors can avoid
the potential problems in the ecotourism operation and management.
The denition of empowerment is controversial and there is no
universally agreed denition of this concept (Andrews, Barbera, Mickle
& Novik, 2013). However, Andrews, et al. (2013) have agreed that the
term empowerment should be combined with both an economic and social
perspective in the denition. Thus, they adapted the empowerment denition
which is coined by Alsop and Heinsohn’s denition that emphasized more
“capacity building view of empowerment”. Empowerment, therefore, can be
dened as the enhancement “of an individual’s or group’s capacity to make
choices and transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes”
(Andrews, et al. 2013). According to Scheyvens (1999), empowerment could
be classied into four dimensions of community capacity such as economic,
social, psychological and political with regards to ecotourism studies.
First, the economic empowerment refers to a fair distribution of
economic benets or gains generating income through tourism activities
by the local communities especially the disadvantaged groups including
women and poor villagers rather than external parties (Scheyvens, 1999;
Park & Kim, 2014). Moreover, economic empowerment can also be dened
as “increasing scal means and power in a women’s life such as an increase
in income as well as position in the household” (Andrews, et al. 2013). Park
& Kim (2014) agreed that economic empowerment “expects to provide
long-term scal benets to the local communities and create small business
ownership”.
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136
Second, the psychological empowerment refers to the extent to which the
“local community optimistic about their future, has faith in the abilities of
its residents, is relatively self-reliant and demonstrates pride in traditions and
culture” (Scheyvens, 1999). In other words, the pride and recognition from
the outsiders towards the local community’s works make the local community
psychologically empowered, for instance, towards their hand-made
handicrafts. Moreover, the recognition not only increase the community-
pride but also make the local community to be involved in tourism activities
with more enthusiasm and have an actual interest to share their traditional
knowledge with the tourists (Timothy, 2007; Park & Kim, 2014).
Third, the social empowerment could be dened as a sense of
ownership by the local people towards any tourism projects in their respective
destinations. Again Scheyvens (1999) dened social empowerment in the
context of ecotourism as “a situation in which a community’s sense of
cohesion and integrity has been conrmed or strengthened by an activity
such as ecotourism”. Study by Park & Kim (2014) indicated that local
community in Goolwa strongly supported the tourism activities. They were
actively involved in the local events and community garden projects, thus,
empowered them socially. This study showed that the sustainable tourism
development could be realised if the local community actively participate
in tourism activities (Tosun, 2005) and could receive benets upon their
participation.
Finally, the political empowerment is also considered as one of
the signicant dimensions in the Scheyvens’s empowerment framework.
As Scheyvens (1999) argued that “if a community is to be politically
empowered by ecotourism, their voices and their concerns should guide the
development of any ecotourism projects from the feasibility stage through
to its implementation”. The local community in the tourist destination could
have some voice in the ecotourism development involving all age groups
including women, youths and elders. To achieve the sustainable tourism,
the development projects must involve local community participation in
decision making process because it is vital for sustainability. This research,
therefore, adopts these four dimensions of empowerment to understand how
women’s empowerment is achieved through ecotourism activities in Abai
Village, Lower Kinabatangan. There is still limited denition of women
empowerment in tourism studies, and there is a need for the development of a
women empowerment framework in tourism literature, particularly the terms
of conceptual denition in order to expand the body of knowledge. Thus, for
this research, had termed and operationalised women empowerment through
ecotourism as “the continuous active participation women in ecotourism
activities where they realised they realised the potential benets of ecotourism
137
activities which empower them socially, economically, environmentally and
politically, as well as acknowledging ecotourism as an alternative source for
their livelihood.
METHODOLOGY
Based on the previous literature, it was noted that there has been little
research on women empowerment in ecotourism activities in Abai Village,
Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, East Malaysia. Thus, qualitative exploratory
research is seen as relevant to examine how women’s empowerment is
achieved through ecotourism activities. The study was carried out in
three months’ period of time starting from September to November 2014.
The primary data for this study was collected through a series of in-depth
interviews with women and community leader of Abai Village. A purposive
sampling technique (Sekaran, 1992) was employed in this study because all
the respondents have the experience in managing ecotourism activities in
Abai Village. Therefore, they have the best position to provide data for this
research. Abai Village was selected as a case because of its potential as an
ecotourism site in Lower Kinabatangan where several ecotourism activities
were run by the locals especially women.
All the informants were asked about their involvement in ecotourism
related activities and the socio-economic benets that they have received.
The interviews were usually conducted at the interviewee’s house and they
gave full support to co-operate with the researchers. All the interviews were
recorded after the researchers gain informants’ permissions. The interviews
lasted between 45 minutes to 1 hour. The interviewees preferred to speak in
Malay as it is a common language in their daily lives. After the interviews,
the raw data were analysed using thematic analysis technique (Braun &
Clarke, 2006).
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
According to Pookhao (2014), ecotourism is an alternative form of
tourism and was regarded as a development tool that promotes ecological
conservation. On the other hand, tourism has a potential to transform the
community lives to be better and it has less impact on local socio-cultural
have been discussed by the previous tourism researchers (Mbaiwa, 2004;
Sebastian & Rajagopalan, 2009). The ndings of this study have indicated
that ecotourism activities in Abai Village have been empowered women in
Abai Village in the following manners:
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138
Most of the ecotourism activities in Abai Village are engaged or managed
by women
In Abai, all ecotourism activities are commonly managed by the local
community and could be regarded as an example of community-based
tourism activities. As remarked by the community leader (informant 7) all
the ecotourism related activities are under the management of Community
Abai Project also known as CAP. Majority of the CAP members are women
and local youths. The homestay programme under the management of CAP
was responsible for all the ecotourism activities. To date, there are four
households actively participated in the homestay programmes. Consequently,
women participation is vital for the survival of this homestay programme
for its sustainability. Through homestay programme, there are a number
of ecotourism products or activities that become tourist attractions such as
river cruise, wildlife viewing, rey watching, boat service, tree planting
or restoration activities, local traditional foods, cultural performances,
showcasing traditional method of catching prawns, and showing mass
owering of Mangifera (a prominent species around the Lower Kinabatangan
Sanctuary). These activities are listed under the homestay programme and
have been packaged to full the tourists’ demands. Normally, the tourists are
free to choose their preferred package whenever they decide to stay in the
homestay programme. This study indicated that, women majority being a
housewife and homestay operators voluntarily take charge in providing good
hospitality to the tourists or guests who stayed over at their homestays. Most
of the outdoor activities however are managed and operated by the local
youths as well as by the head of households. This is not to say that women
are not involved in outdoor activities, rather they become the backbone
to their family by providing most of the homestay services or aspects
such as preparing food four times a day for the tourists and their family
members. Thus, women participation in ecotourism activities, especially in
the homestay programme of Abai, is vital because of their hard work and
sacrices.
Sign of social empowerment: There is stronger collaboration between CAP
and stakeholders in ecotourism activities enhancing women participation
Prior to the establishment of homestay programme in Abai Village in year
2001, the local community agreed to participate in homestay programme and
they were working together with external stakeholders. WWF Sabah was the
rst NGO which introduced the homestay programme at Abai with the hope
that the poverty level of the local community could be decreased. The social
empowerment in the establishment of homestay programme could be seen
where the four households especially women with permission from their
139
husbands agreed to participate in the homestay programme. The reason why
they were interested to participate in homestay programme was claimed by a
female Homestay Coordinator. She claimed that:
“With the introduction of this programme, we
became interested to participate for the main
reason being our involvement in this programme
could enhance our livelihood and economic
achievement” (Informant 3, 2014).
With the co-operation and collaboration of the NGO and local community
themselves, the homestay programme was successfully established and fully
operated by the locals at Abai in 2001.This nding supported Park & Kim’s
study in year 2014, where there was a greater and stronger collaboration
among the stakeholder for tourism development. It was obvious that, without
women’s participation, the homestay programme could not be smoothly
implemented. This is because almost every hospitality services need women’s
roles in order to please the guest. For instance, the services such as preparing
traditional foods, hand-made handicrafts, cleanliness of the homestays, and
forest restoration project such as tree nursery in Abai Village were fully
dependent on women participation.
Moreover, women roles at Abai were also signicant in the social
aspect of community development process. It was evident that CAP introduced
donation initiative where it was integrated in the homestay programme. This
initiative was aimed to enhance the social cohesion and livelihoods of the
local people of Abai. In this initiative, 10 per cent of the homestay income
per day will be charged by the CAP from every homestay operators in the
village. This initiative was supported by the women homestay operators and
they signicantly contribute to the success of this initiative. The collection
funds will be used for community development purposes and for the homestay
operation within the village. The CAP treasurer noted that, “the raised funds
will be used for homestay maintenance and other livelihoods programme
within the village” (women informant 1). Thus, social empowerment through
fund raising initiative among the locals was an example of the empowerment
framework suggested by Scheyvens (1999). This nding is in line with her
suggestion in the context of ecotourism activities.
Sign of economic empowerment: Women as homestay operators’ gains
economic empowerment through ecotourism activities
Ecotourism activities especially homestay programmes, was perceived by
the informants to have an impact on their livelihoods and has empowered
them in terms of economic benets because of their participation in
ecotourism activities. A female homestay operator agreed that homestay
JGD Vol. 13. Issue 1, January 2017
140
programme in Abai was providing economic benets and acts an alternative
socio-economic activity for the villagers. The following comments from the
informant explain the situation:
“When the homestay was set up here, as a
homestay operator, our economic status has
increased. Previously, the marine resources like
fish resources had increased but currently it has
worsened and decreased. Thus, community-
based tourism activities [homestay programme]
have helped us to get some income. On the
other hand, many of us tend to be involved in
this programme because of the potential income
from the programme” (Informant 4, 2014).
Moreover, other women informants (informants 1, 2, 3) who are also the
homestay operators have supported the view that economic benets from
the homestay programme enhanced their livelihoods by improving the cash
earned. An equal opportunity in the homestay programme at Abai Village
provided a fair distribution of additional income among the homestay
operators within the Abai’s community. As Scheyvens (1999) suggested that
“ecotourism brings lasting economic gains to a local community”. Similarly,
these ndings supported the previous study where 34 CBT projects in
Nicaragua, Central America provided employment opportunities to the local
people as well as economic benets such as income generated (Zapata, Hall,
Lindo, & Vanderschaeghe, 2011).
Sign of psychological empowerment: Most of the women gains self-esteem
through ecotourism activities
This study also observed that women at Abai Village strongly supported
ecotourism activities since it brought them psychological empowerment
where passive participation changed to active participation. In-depth
interviews with women informants show that they agreed to this statement
and they were largely encouraged by their family members as well as by
external parties such as NGOs to participate actively. The community leader
(informant 7) of Abai Village claimed that the local residents presently faced
transformation in terms of their level of condence with their daily activities.
He also stressed that with the introduction of ecotourism activities in Abai
Village, the benets from those activities are not only restricted to ecotourism
participants but to the whole of Abai’s community.
In Abai Village, homestay operators are dominated mostly by
women because these women have good skills on hand-made handicraft and
traditional cooking. During the eldworks, the researchers enjoyed watching
141
the process of making handicraft by the women at their homestays. They were
good at making a variety of handicrafts which showed their way of lives such
as making traditional shing equipment. Evidently, this shows they have a
sense of pride about their culture and traditions through handicraft making.
Doing these kind of activities in the homestay programme has clearly
demonstrated the psychological empowerment gained by the women at Abai.
As Scheyvens’s (1999) claimed that self-esteem of the community members
were enhanced because they were recognised by the outsiders especially
tourists and guests and this will make them want to be enthusiastically
involved.
Sign of political empowerment: Women have full rights in decision making
in the homestay programme
At the local level, there was a good relationship between community
leader and the other ecotourism participants particularly in dealing with the
ecotourism management. In this study, researchers have observed that there
was a good understanding between these two groups which beneted the
whole community if the relationship is long lasting and sustainable. In CAP
management, women participants have full rights in decision making process
in the ecotourism related activities. Take for instance this particular woman
homestay programme coordinator who is also the head of CAP organisation.
As the homestay coordinator, she claimed that they are able to play multiple
roles such as domestic workers and homestay operators. The political
structure at the local village provides enough rights to women to express
their views and opinions related ecotourism activities and the homestay
management. This nding is in line with Park & Kim’s (2014) study where
local community have rights to say ‘no’ to any development plans which did
not reect community wants and needs and clearly indicated that political
empowerment among the local community has been realised.
CONCLUSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH SUGGESTIONS
The results of this study suggest that ecotourism activities through homestay
programme signicantly inuenced women participation actively and
empowered them socially, psychologically, economically and politically
in Abai Village, Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah. Moreover, this study also
suggests that Abai Village can be a form of sustainable tourism destination
and development. This is because the collaboration of local people with
the external stakeholders has existed. From this study, it was evident that
outside stakeholder like WWF has played a signicant role to help the local
community to enhance their livelihood by having homestay programmes.
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142
Tosun (2000) viewed that community-based ecotourism operation in the
developing countries need more attention and reinforcement from the outside
stakeholders compared to developed nations.
This study was provided both, theoretical and policy implications.
The theoretical implication shows that the concept of empowerment
suggested by Scheyvens, (1999) has been fully utilized in the context of
ecotourism development in Abai Village. It is also shown that the Scheyvens’s
Empowerment Framework for this study is applicable. This study has
achieved the objectives where ecotourism activities have enhanced local
community participation especially women, which then have empowered
them. Moreover, this study has to some extent fullled the research gap
in tourism studies with regards to women participation and empowerment
issues in ecotourism activities in Malaysia. For the policy implications,
this study suggested that local tourism stakeholders especially Ministry of
Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah should play a signicant role by
providing more assistance to the local community at Abai in order to sustain
their active involvement. It is hoped that, external stakeholders like NGOs
should also support the local community in terms of providing substantial
knowledge and training related to ecotourism and homestay programmes.
This research has clearly addressed the four dimensions or signs
of empowerment of women (Scheyvens, 1999) in ecotourism activities of
Abai Village. Thus, it is suggested that the signs of women empowerment in
ecotourism activities in Abai Village, Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, could be
enhanced in sustainable manners in the near future.
On the other hand, the study has several limitations. First, the
present study covered only a village in Lower Kinabatangan area of Sabah,
which is the Abai Villages. Other villages, such as Sukau, Batu Puteh, Bilit,
Dagat and Sri Ganda are also located within the Lower Kinabatangan area
but there are limited empirical research conducted in these villages, thus
there is a need to do more research on women participation in ecotourism
activities. In addition, our observation revealed that the most popular
ecotourism activities in these villages are largely dominated by women, and
more empirical research are needed to document their contributions to the
tourism industry in Sabah, Malaysia. Second, this study only focused on the
positive empowerment factors for women in ecotourism activities in Abai
Village, but did not study the disempowerment brought by ecotourism to the
women involved in ecotourism activities, hence, future research could be
useful to identify this issue.
143
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This study was nanced by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD).
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Chapter
It is a common stigma surrounding many Muslim dominated rural tourism areas that women have limited participation and empowerment to contribute to the sustainable tourism development of surrounding areas. This is mainly due to the religious or cultural beliefs that women’s contribution to these communities is more likely to be associated with being the homemakers. However, in recent years, more evidence has pointed out that women in these areas have more capabilities and skills to contribute to sustainable development in relation to tourism. This paper discusses other prominent factors at play surrounding challenges in relation to women empowerment, particularly in Malay Muslim rural areas. The preliminary research was conducted to explore the challenges of women’s participation and empowerment in ecotourism. Through content analysis from interviews that were conducted in seven villages adjacent to three ecotourism areas in Kelantan, Malaysia, we present a discussion on the challenges relating to culture and religion surrounding women empowerment, as well as emerging themes on social, economic and political factors that affects women empowerment.
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This study attempted to investigate how and the extent to which Cittaslow philosophy and practice enhanced local community’s involvement and empowerment in relation to tourism development from the sustainability’s perspective. As an empirical study, a series of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders including local government, local business, and local community’s members were conducted in Goolwa, the first Australian accredited Cittaslow town since 2007, located in South Australia. The results indicated that to a greater extent the accreditation and practice of Cittaslow philosophy in Goolwa increased a stronger and more effective collaboration amongst local community, business and residents as an essential element for achieving sustainability in tourism development. Not only did it encourage the local community’s participation in decision making process from the beginning of tourism development, but also revitalised the locality and sense of place of Goolwa through promoting local specialities and produces, in particular food and wine products. The results also suggested that psychological and social aspects of local community’s empowerment have been significantly enhanced after the establishment of Cittaslow. Yet, the economic empowerment of the local community was less experienced.
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There is little consensus on the definition for rural tourism. Researchers from different countries have developed their own definitions based on their unique experiences or contexts. In Malaysia, the current definition for rural tourism is rather vague, narrow and focuses on homestay programmes in rural areas. As rural tourism is an important component of the tourism industry in Malaysia, there is a need to redefine what rural tourism is, so that it encompasses the multiple dimensions and complexities. Hence, this paper proposes to redefine rural tourism in Malaysia. The objective was achieved through a content analysis of the different definitions used in selected developed and developing economies that were available in the published literature. With the clear understanding of what rural tourism should ideally encompass, the findings from the study can be used to guide the Malaysian Government in re-positioning rural tourism as a key niche industry and boost the tourism industry higher up the value chain.
Book
This is the first volume to explicitly consider how leisure and tourism acts as a major focus by which power may be understood in a geographical context. Key thinking and major approaches to unravelling the complexities of power are outlined in this collection and their relevance to current and future tourism studies is discussed. Tourism, Power and Space blends theoretical perspectives from leading power theorists such as: Parsons, Foucault and Clegg. Exploring the intricacies of the relationships between power, tourism and leisure, this stimulating volume combines theoretical and empirical writings to illustrate the extent to which power, in its various forms and guises and at various scales of operation, impacts on the unfolding structures, practices and organization of tourism and leisure on both the demand and supply sides. Divided into three sections: Power, Performance And Practice, Power, Property And Resources and Power, Governance And Empowerment; this text will be a useful resource for students and academics alike.