|29th IBIMA Conference
3 - 4 May 2017
Ecotourism industry-related challenges in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Malaysia
Kamariah bt Ismail, Wan Fauziah Wan Yusoff, Tan Sui Hong, Norhalimah bt Idris,
Khairiah bt Soehod and Rabeatul Husna bt Abdull Rahman,
The growth of tourism industry in Malaysia has been remarkable. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Tourism Highlights 2014, Malaysia recorded 25 million tourist arrivals in 1950 and this figure is expected to reach 1.6 billion in 2020. In 2012 alone, industry has employed 2.09 million persons within the tourism workforce. In recent time, ecotourism has become the fastest growing type of tourism in Malaysia due to its wide range of natural assets. However, one of the biggest challenges faced by ecotourism sector is its “elasticity of definition” which lead to the tendency of many nature-based tourist activities to use the ecotourism label for the purpose of quick financial gain. Thus, it becomes equally difficult to identify and address real ecotourism challenges. This study is part of a bigger research project by the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (ILMIA), Malaysia which was conducted with the aim to assist ecotourism stakeholders understand better the industry challenges for the viability of East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Malaysia. ECER is one of the economic corridor conceptualized by the government of Malaysia with the aim of boosting economic activities from the east coast region of Peninsular Malaysia. These geographical segments comprising 51 percent of the land mass in the Malaysian Peninsular have an estimated population of 4.2 million inhabitants and thus, representing fifteen percent of the country’s total population and contributing 8.9 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Data collected from the focus group discussions (FGDs) as well as interviews conducted with representatives from ecotourism industries in the ECER yielded six major industry-related challenges namely, the lack of agencies’ coordination to drive ecotourism growth, increased poaching activities, poor capacity planning, poor marketing strategies, climatic change and unregulated mass audience marketing. This paper discusses these six challenges and also put forth recommendations.