Sunday September 11, 2011
Sustainable tourism study
TO BALANCE the escalating growth of the tourism industry with the preservation of the environment, a holistic understanding of the industry’s key stakeholders’ needs is required.
This is the area of study that will be undertaken by Taylor’s University as a result of the RM9mil research grant awarded to them recently by the Higher Education Ministry under its Long-Term Research Grant Scheme (LRGS) – the biggest grant disbursed to a private university under this scheme.
“The award of the grant demonstrates the government’s confidence in our research and development strengths as well as our ability to deliver such a huge project,” said the university’s vice-chancellor and president Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said.
“This project is also an avenue through which private and public universities are able to collaborate, for the development of the education industry and nation as a whole,” he added.
Titled “Multi-dimensional Responsible Rural Tourism Capacity (RRTC) Framework for Sustainable Tourism”, the study addresses the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.
It is expected to assist the Tourism Ministry to more effectively manage all rural and eco-tourism sites in Malaysia through the development of a tourism barometer.
Spearheaded by Taylor’s University under the supervision of its Research and Development director Assoc Prof Dr Vikneswaran Nair, the project is a collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia as the main project leaders.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, International Islamic University Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Mara will undertake the role as the project’s co-researchers.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur-based social enterprise group Wild Asia, which has been championing the concept of responsible tourism, will be one of the drivers to assist the project achieve its objectives.
The main deliverable of the project is the integrated management system for responsible rural tourism capacity which acts as the tourism barometer that will assist in the monitoring and management of all rural tourism sites in Malaysia.
“Under the tourism umbrella, eco-tourism and rural tourism grows at a rate of 30% per year, and Malaysia is recognised as one of the best eco-tourism destinations in this region.
“Although tourism is a profitable business (if managed well), the industry’s growth is taking a toll on the environment,” said Dr Nair.
He added that the development of sustainable rural tourism was dependent on fulfilling the objectives of all stakeholders in the system, and it was imperative to have a holistic understanding of the impact of these developments on key natural destinations.
“This proposed study is essential if the tourism industry in Malaysia is to move towards ‘high yield’ tourism,” he said.
Scheduled to be complete in 2016, the project is expected to produce 15 PhDs, 80 high impact journal publications (ISI) and six IPs (books and patents).