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Journal of Tourism, Hospitality & Culinary Arts

Vol. 6 Issue 2

THE IMPACT OF CULTURAL TOURISM IN SMALL TOWN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Khairil Wahidin Awang, Ong May Fong*, Yuhanis Ab Aziz and Jeahnichen Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia Corresponding email: [email protected]

ABSTRACT By recognizing the nature and culture in small towns as an asset that could become a tourist attraction, this research is aimed at exploring the potential of small towns in Malaysia as the sustainable tourism product. In any tourism planning and destination impact on the surrounding especially to the surrounding community or resident can be negative or positive. Nevertheless, resident support is essential to ensure long-term success in tourism development. This is particularly important because local community is the main player of the small town development to support the overall small town sustainability. The overall purpose of the study is to be a model of small town development and become a pioneer research of a well self-sustained tourism destination that enhances the economy, quality of life, and the community pride of small towns. Keywords:

culture, development, small town, sustainable, tourism

____________ ISSN 1985-8914 ©2014 Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia

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INTRODUCTION As the centuries move on, small towns are being abandoned. Deterioration of small towns is especially significant in developed countries. The population of small towns has migrated to great commercial and industrial areas and cities. Not only have the communities in small towns lost population, but businesses have also closed or relocated. The physical environment is deteriorating, the community's spirit is low, and the agricultural base had challenged by world markets and technology. Many researchers relate their study of small towns with globalization challenges (e.g. Courvisanos and Martin, 2005), urban sprawl (e.g. Lambe 2008; Leinberger, 2005), aging population (e.g. Nicholls, 2005; Lambe, 2008), tourism development (e.g. Altinay and Hussain, 2005), industrial development (e.g. Leinberger, 2005), and entrepreneurship. Though, many small town planners had identified the small town potential assets both tangible and intangible before the place became completely silent. They repackage the resources of a small town into tourism products that attract millions to come. Small town research studies have been a popular subject in Western countries. According to Lambe (2008), towns are divided into few categories: i. Small towns that are recreation or retirement destinations ii. Small towns that have abundance of natural assets iii. Small towns with historical, cultural or heritage assets iv. Small towns with college campuses By recognizing the social and economic benefits of tourism, many town planners even the country planners have had goals that involve tourism development.

LITERATURE REVIEWS Malaysia tourism industry The tourism sector has been Malaysia’s second-largest foreign exchange-earner. In 2009, although the world was hit by the global financial crisis, Malaysia’s tourism arrivals continued to increase 7.2%; 23.65 million compared to 22.05 million the previous year (Malaysia Economic Report 2010/2011). In 2010, Malaysia ranked 16th regarding global inbound tourist receipts, capturing approximately 2% of the global market share (Tourism’s New Drive, 2010). Malaysia’s tourism industry has been significantly important to the country as one of the 12 National Key Economic Area (NKEA) where Malaysia has the potential to excel. We can see the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has developed many new tourism products such as the Homestay program, rail tourism, and art tourism, in-line with the government target to improve Malaysia’s position within the top 10 regarding global 58

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tourism receipts in 2015. That is to reach RM115 billion and provide 2.7 million jobs (Tourism’s New Drive, 2010). Malaysia is expecting to achieve 36 million tourist arrivals and RM 168 billion in tourism receipts by 2020. The main attraction for the tourists is Mother Nature, culture and heritage. The concept of ‘peace and quiet,' ‘slower pace of life,' ‘fresh air,' ‘gentle’ and relaxing are used to describe the rural/countryside tourism (Tourism’s New Drive, 2010). The Ministry of Tourism and Culture has allocated a promotional budget that covers domestic and international promotions, which include participation in international tourism fairs, advertising campaigns, sales missions and mega familiarization programs every year. The reliance on tourism as a tool for development is used by the Malaysian government as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture promotes the Homestay program which involves mostly the rural, sub-urban community as well as small towns to offer their accommodation for the tourists.

Small town issues in Malaysia The impact of tourism planning and destination definitely will go to the surrounding especially to the surrounding community or resident whether negatively or positively. Nevertheless, resident support is essential to ensure long-term success in tourism development. This is particularly important because local community is the main player of small town development and support the overall small town. As Chandralal (2010) noted that it is impossible to sustain tourism at a destination that is not supported by the local people. According to Tatoglu (2000), there was negative perception invoke of the community due to the unstructured tourism planning, uncontrolled constructions, increase of noise level, pollution, and congestion. Mason (2000) supported this and stated that the negative environment impacts which are frequently highlighted include littering, overcrowding, traffic congestion as well as pollution of water and soil. Chandralal (2010) however mentioned that the most important benefit that the residents felt had flowed from tourism were increased employment opportunities, property values, the image of the city, appearance and infrastructure of the city and improved pride as the residents. Humans are the major force that changes the condition of land on Earth. Consequently, land transformation effects many of the planet’ physical, chemical, and biological systems that impact directly on humans. Thus, a critical challenge for land use and management are to study to overcome the problems of haphazard uncontrolled development, deteriorating environment quality, loss of flora and fauna habitat and to make sure the sustainability of the environment. Besides that, small towns are often shown as a place with many interpersonal relationships and high in social capital. Social capital is a resource or force that can influence the quality of life of a community living environment. As explained by Putnam (2000), social capital defined as the relationship between people characterized 59

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by trust, norm, reciprocity that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual goal. Courvisanos and Martin (2005) said that by understanding the forces that operate in small country towns, local communities and governments would be better able to develop actions and policies which can make these towns resilient, more viable and sustainable. This study of a small town in Malaysia contributes to the industry especially to the tourism planner as a comprehensive master plan in developing small town as a tourism product. This research also benefits the local authority in future planning for the local town as a tourism destination, hence enhance the local economy and improve the quality of community life. Besides, this paper explores and adds-on the knowledge of tourism sector in Malaysia in creating a new direction or a new aspect of promoting our country locally as well as internationally. On the other hand, the insight resulting from this research is valuable as a beginning for other academic scholars who wish to investigate further into small towns.

RESEARCH PROBLEMS This research is aimed at exploring the potential of small towns in Malaysia as a sustainable tourism product. The research issue concern includes the host-community residents’ attitudes toward tourism. The sustainability of tourism development is related to the host-community response and co-operation. Therefore the strategies that need to be included in the small towns tourism planning not only comprise of the internal and external environment of the town but also the deep understanding of the hostcommunity. i. The level of the availability of community resources influences the quality of community life. ii. The social patterns in small town in-terms of community bonding, bridging and linking give impact on the sense of belonging to the place. iii. Identifying the community values of the place and determine the local intangible cultural assets and uniqueness. iv. The level of development of the central business area will influence the liveliness of the central business area.

RESEARCH DESIGN According to Brewer (2000), ethnography is the study of people in naturally occurring settings or ‘fields’ by methods of data collection which capture their social meanings and ordinary activities, involving the researcher participating directly in the setting, if not also the activities, in order to collect data in a systematic manner but without meaning being imposed on them externally. This research method is used because the information is new and unfamiliar, besides the information requested is too subtle to be interpreted by quantitative techniques. The data collection is done through in-depth 60

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interviewing, observation and document review. This research is using ethnography method base on a case study of a small town. There are four types of data collection methods in this study: checklist, interviews, direct observation and participant observation. In the field-work composition: a researcher’s drafts (log-book), transcripts and recordings of interviews with respondents, videotapes and notes from direct field observations, and checklists. The secondary data is gathered from the documents from the government. The report of overall economic performance also can be found on the website. The secondary information was gathered from previous research and journals, articles, blogs, newspaper, films, statistic data, documents found on the website and magazines. As the centuries move on, small towns are being abandoned. Deterioration of small towns is especially significant in developed countries. The population of small towns has migrated to great commercial and industrial areas and cities. Not only have the communities in small towns lost population, but businesses have also closed or relocated. The physical environment is deteriorating, the community's spirit is low, and the agricultural base had challenged by world markets and technology. Many researchers relate their study of small towns with globalization challenges (e.g. Courvisanos and Martin, 2005), urban sprawl (e.g. Lambe 2008; Leinberger, 2005), aging population (e.g. Nicholls, 2005; Lambe, 2008), tourism development (e.g. Altinay and Hussain, 2005), industrial development (e.g. Leinberger, 2005), and entrepreneurship. Though, many small town planners had identified the small town potential assets both tangible and intangible before the place became completely silent. They repackage the resources of a small town into tourism products that attract millions to come. Small town research studies have been a popular subject in Western countries. According to Lambe (2008), towns are divided into few categories: i. Small towns that are recreation or retirement destinations ii. Small towns that have abundance of natural assets iii. Small towns with historical, cultural or heritage assets iv. Small towns with college campuses By recognizing the social and economic benefits of tourism, many town planners even the country planners have had goals that involve tourism development.

STUDY FRAMEWORK Please refer to Figure 1 Study Framework. This research framework shows the flow of the research study to be conducted to develop a small town research project. The diagram provides as a master guideline to the researcher to fully cover the area with the depth insight of each element in the boxes. The major study starts with nine elements 61

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that include: community resources, social capital, transportation and accessibility, infrastructure and service delivery, customers and visitors inventory, safety and security, land use and physical environment, intangible assets, and central business area as the market analysis on strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats. The tourism product development would be recognized, and the strategic outcome of the research would show the evidence of community spirit, cooperation, environment equity, quality of community life, quality of business life, community pride, well-maintained infrastructure, and conviction that in the long run, the community can be self-sustained.

OUTLOOK Malaysia is a country with its richness of different cultures and races which attracted thousands of tourists to visit this colorful country. The international tourists have shown more preference on natural or ecotourism in the current decade. Small towns offer resources and culture that have the potential to be repackaged into tourism products. An in-depth study needed to get the mutual understanding and support from the local community of the small town. Local community support is the main reason for the overall small town sustainability. Critical challenges for this study involve the interpersonal relationship between internal and external players; to facilitate coordination and co-operation for a mutual goal. The strategies include strengthening the “kampong spirit” among the local community and much can be adapted from the previous researchers on small town tourism planning. This research is to discover the nature and culture in a small town as a potential destination for tourist. The importance of this study is to be a pioneer study of a small town in Malaysia contributing to the industry especially to the tourism planner as a comprehensive master plan in developing small town as a tourism product. This research also benefits the local authority in future planning for the local town as a tourism destination, hence enhance the local economy and improve the quality of community life.

REFERENCES Abdul Aziz, A., Bakhtiar, M.F.S., Che Ahmat, N.’H., Balakrishnan, M. S. (2009). Commentary Strategic Branding Of Destination: A Framework. European Journal Of Marketing Vol.43 No.5/6, Pp.611-629 Brewer J. D. (2000) Ethnography.Open University Press, pp 10. P1 Malaysia Economic Report 2010/2011. Ministry of Finance Malaysia www.treasury.gov.my/pdf/economy/er/1011/chap3.pdf viewed on 15th July 2013 Chandralal, K. P. L. (2010). Impacts of tourism and community attitude towards tourism: A case study in Sri Lanka. South Asian Journal of Tourism & Heritage, 3(2), 41-49

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Courvisanos, J. and Martin, J (2005). Developing Policy for Australia’s Small Town: from Anthropology to Sustainability. 2nd Country Towns Conference. paper Kotler, P. (1991). Marketing Management (7th Ed.). New Delhi: Prentice-Hall Laksiri, W. M. R., And Falkenburg, A. (2009). Marketing Sri Lanka As An International Tourist Destination. Saarbrucken: Vdm Verlag. Leinberger, C.B. (2005). Turning Around Downtown: Twelve Steps to Revitalization. Metropolitan Policy Program. The Brookings Institution. Lambe W. (2008) Small Towns Big Ideas Case Study in Small Town Community Ecomonic Development. N.C. Rural Economic Development Center Mason, P. (2000), “Residents’ attitudes to proposed tourism development”, Annalsof Tourism Research, 27(2), 391-411. Mihalis, K. (2005). Branding The City Through Culture And Entertainment. Journal Aesop 05 Vienna, pp 1-7 Nicholls, S., Vogt, C., Soo, H.J. (2004) as cited in Fariborz Aref, Ma’rof B Redzuan and Zahid Emby (2009) Heeding the Call for Heritage Tourism: More Visitors Want an “Experience” in Their Vacations- Something a Historical Park can provide. Putnam, R.D. (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon & Schuster, 2001. Tatoglu, E. (2010). Resident perceptions of the impact of tourism in a Turkish Resort Town.Beykent University, Department of Management, para 745-755 Tourism’s New Drive. 2010. Malaysian Business magazine. September 2010 issue. Wagner, O. And Peters, M. (2009). The Development And Communication Of Destination Brand Identity – The Case Of The Alps, Tourism Destination Development And Branding Eilat 2009 Conference Proceedings, Vol 1, Pp 10-26

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Figure 1: Study Framework

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