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The Future of Tourism in ASEAN: More Blessing than Blight?

Saturday 21 March 2015, 0900 – 1100, Lecture Theatre 6

Balvinder Kaur Kler
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

Balvinder Kaur Kler
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

This panel seeks to examine tourism development in ASEAN focusing on Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Situated on a knowledge-based platform, the papers in this panel incorporate discussions on the economic, social, environmental and political impacts of tourism. ASEAN continues to plan for future tourism growth as an essential facet of economic development. Yet, even as member nations compete for visitor numbers, the fact remains tourism is a double-edged sword that brings benefits and costs. In his seminal discussion, “Tourism: Blessing or Blight?” Young (1973) suggested benefits from the growth of tourism are often experienced at a national level, with costs faced at regional and local levels. Brown (1998) who reassessed this theme proposed that any discussion on tourism and its impacts needed to consider these as manifestations of wider political processes. Currently, it is evident from the literature that often income generated by tourism in developing countries does not reach the people, destination and economies hoping to benefit from this industry. More likely, the footprint of tourism is left in the form of impacts on the natural and built environment, and less tangible factors such as sense of place. As tourist arrivals continue to increase to the Southeast Asian region, it is timely to discuss how ASEAN nations could ensure an equitable distribution of benefits from tourism to its stakeholders, while at the same time, ensuring costs are minimalized. Tourism should be developed and managed in such a way in which it is more blessing than blight.


Paper 1: Evaluating Participatory Approaches in Combining Tourism and Coastal Management: Lessons from Bang Ta Boon Village, Thailand

Kitsada Tungchawal
Phetchaburi Rajabhat University

Within a wide body of literature, it has been argued and demonstrated that community participation in tourism development is advantageous in terms of the sustainability and effectiveness of the development policies adopted. As tourism is frequently cited as a tool by which Thais can strengthen the economies of their cultural and natural resources, successful tourism development of such resources requires effective tourism planning, and effective tourism planning requires public participation in the planning process. The main objective of this study is to examine the nature of community participation expected by various interest groups with special references to a fishing village destination in Thailand. A conceptual framework was developed by examining typologies of c ommunity participation. Under the guidance of this conceptual framework, field research was designed and applied through a case study approach. The fishing village of Bang Ta Boon, located in a bay off the Gulf of Thailand in Petchaburi province has proved to be a practicable community for community participation in tourism and environmental management. The village is also popular for whale watching specifically sighting Bryde’s whales. Findings show that expected nature of community participation by interest groups varies from non-participation to forms of spontaneous participation, even though Thailand has politically been considered unstable towards community participation. Possible success factors are discussed and suggestions for conducting similar future research on Thailand’s destinations are advanced for consideration.

Paper 2: Understanding HOST-Guest Sense of Place in Sustainable Marine Tourism Development at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Malaysia

Pauline Poh Lin Wong
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

This paper introduces a study which explores the relationship between sense of place (SOP), hosts and guests, and sustainability at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP), Sabah. TARP is the first marine national park in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo), plays a major role in Sabah’s marine tourism sector and is highly visited throughout the year due to its strategic proximity to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city. Sense of place encompasses an understanding of the meaning bestowed upon a physical, geographical location by residents, or hosts, and a new body of knowledge is beginning to examine SOP amongst visitors, or guests. This study suggests that preservation of sense of place enables tourist destinations to retain a uniqueness of character, allows the host community to maintain their sense of belonging and host sustainably. In turn, it is proposed that only when hosts’ SOP is channeled to guests will there be sustainable development of a destination. The key research question put forward asks how do residents of Kota Kinabalu feel about TARP? How immersed is the host community in their SOP towards TARP? Is this SOP visible amongst guests? The results of focus group interviews are presented in this paper and suggest that understanding SOP of both guests’ but especially hosts’ perspectives and sustainability are vital components in guiding the continued development of TARP as a tourist destination, now and in the future.

Paper 3: Tourism as a Vehicle for Natural Resources Conservation: The Potential for Mount Apo Natural Park (MANP), Philippines

Aurelia Luzviminda V. Gomez
University of the Philippines Mindanao

The Mount Apo Natural Park (MANP) is a 641-square kilometre multiple-use protected area in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. The MANP is considered as home of endemism in Mindanao, provides source of water for at least two million people, and provides recreation opportunities. The defining feature of the MANP is Mount Apo, the Philippines’ highest mountain. Thus, a major tourism activity is mountain climbing, which attracts both local and foreign tourists. The MANP also offers other nature-based tourism opportunities. This paper explores the potential role of tourism for natural resources conservation in the MANP through payment for environmental services. Contingent valuation was used to determine mountain climbers’ willingness to pay for climbing Mount Apo. Maximum willingness to pay amount was obtained through anchored open-ended elicitation format. Using stratified random sampling, data were collected from a survey of more than 400 mountain climbers from four climbing trails to Mount Apo. Data were analyzed using Nlogit®. Results show that climbers were willing to pay almost twice the existing fee to climb Mount Apo. Willingness to pay was significantly positively influenced by personal income, place of residence, and importance attached to the MANP as a water catchment area. Results of the study indicate a potential for designing tourism activities that can contribute to natural resources conservation.

Paper 4: Losing My Sense of Place: Twenty Years of Tourism Development in Sabah, Malaysia

Balvinder Kaur Kler
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

By 2025, the vision for tourism is to make Sabah one of the most liveable places in Asia. Twenty years of active tourism promotion and development has seen Sabah reap the benefits of increased tourist arrivals, to become the third most important contributor to the local economy including the provision of employment. Tourism can have positive economic effects on a host community but it can also change its character negatively. A key loss to host communities is to their Sense of Place – the affective and cognitive bonds that they have with their home. Although a promising framework for understanding how tourism changes a host community, Sense of Place has been little utilised for this purpose. This conceptual paper is an initial attempt to remedy that with reference to the city of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. This paper examines the imbalance between the preservation of the city’s genius loci, juxtaposed against tourism development which has seen an unparalleled increase in the range of motels, hotels, shopping malls, catering to the needs of the tourists. Understanding the unique Sense of Place that host communities have may allow a more equitable integration of tourism into host communities. This paper suggests that the Sense of Place of a community should be incorporated into tourism planning, for ultimately, to make a place liveable requires an understanding of the local response to natural and built surroundings, geography and history. By doing so, tourism can be accurately positioned as a positive force for economic and social development.