Revitalisation of Rural Resources through Sustainable Tourism

  • 12 Jul 2010
  • (CST)
  • 31 Dec 2010
  • (CST)
  • Gopeng, Tg Piai, Taman Negara, Kuala Lumpur
Rural Tourism:  Capacity Building for Community and Local Tourism Leaders

MEA attempts to present a template for successfully weaving tourism into a rural economy based on the key elements of rural tourism. The project outlines a decision-making model and an operational strategy based on MEA’s expert members’ experiences over the past twenty years developing experiential tourism products, managing tourism enterprises, and researching tourism development.

MEA is pleased to bring its expertise and hands-on teaching style to rural communities in Malaysia. MEA’s primary role is to provide sustainable institutional support, develop community leadership and undertake developmental research.

MEA aims to promote strategies for rural revitalization through capacity building workshops and seminars with local administrative institutions, villages and towns and at the same time maintaining multilateral collaboration with similar ecotourism associations abroad particularly in areas of developing supply chains with targeted markets and developing suitable interpretative documents related to specific nationalities.

Four pilot sites of different identities have been identified:
•    Pontian District, Johor (Pontian, Tg Piai, Kukup) – Wetland/Aqua-culture
•    Jerantut District, Pahang – (Jerantut, Taman Negara) - Rainforest/Agriculture
•    Kampar District, Perak – (Kampar, Gopeng) - Secondary Forest/Tin Mining

By working in, and with the community where the tourism experience will take place, the workshop leaders can facilitate a tourism product development process on the spot. By working directly in the target community, our workshop leaders can have a vital impact on a critical mass of people who will ultimately participate in delivering the tourism experience.

Through a series of custom designed capacity building workshops, the communities will be guided and taught in developing authentic tourism experiences, building brand awareness and generating strong visitor numbers by developing local tourism enterprises and delivering effective information services.

The capacity building program will teach the community to partake in key activities which are crucial to the success in developing a rural tourism destination. Community members are taught how to :
•    Develop a plan or roadmap for the destination
•    Design and implement skill development and training programs for the community
•    Undertake basic accounting and financial planning for community projects funds
•    Develop tourism destination and visitor experience management
•    Prepare a destination sales and marketing plan
•    Set up an information/reservations & tour centre
•    Effective use of ICT and multimedia applications

It is MEA’S hope that the project will assist rural entrepreneurs, development agencies, small-scale farmers, and rural community members around the country in developing business strategies that bring economic prosperity to their communities and regions.

Strategic Objectives and Benefits
Revitalization of Malaysia’s rural areas will :
•    Attract sustainable industries including tourism enterprises that creates employment and improve community’s standard of living
•    Create employment and positive socio-economic benefits for the community, revitalizing population growth and reducing rural-urban migration of human capital
•    Generate economic return from wasted idle land and abundant natural resources found in rural areas
•    Contribute to racial integration and interaction among rural folks for the betterment of community and their future, fostering cultural pride, traditions and hometown passion.
•    Develop a positive political outlook to level the playing field between the urban population and the rural population in terms of public investment, education and enterprise development.

Weaving tourism enterprises into Malaysia’s rural life will:
•    Necessitate the need and use of English language in rural areas and motivate rural folks, especially the youth to learn English, narrowing the English language divide between rural and urban areas.
•    Create occupation opportunities for both the young and old; with the proliferation of a wide range of tourism enterprises including accommodation, transportation, food and beverage, guiding services and other ancillary services like souvenir shops.
•    Promotes national integration, promotes cultural understanding and traditions through domestic tourism in rural areas.
•    Provide opportunities to develop new and creative natural and cultural tourism products for international markets as well as attracting tourism revenue to rural areas of most need.
•    Contribute to the returns on infrastructure investment on paved roads, clean water, education and sustainable energy resources for rural and remote areas
•    Ensure community empowerment; representing a voice in how tourism develops in the community
•    Provide the community with tourism management and service skills training

Communities enlisted in MEA’s RRR tourism program will benefit from:
•    Periodic meetings/seminars/forums to share ideas with other local tourism enterprises
•    Access to small grants when available
•    Accounting services through partners
•    Links to local, regional, national, international govt. institutions
•    Financial advice through partner SME bank facilities
•    Legal representation services through partner legal bureau
•    Levelling the playing field for small and medium sized tourism entrepreneurs to thrive
•    Access to supply chain – travel agents, tour operators, online agents
•    Expanding database of customers and potential customers
•    Access to marketing and promotional materials
•    Access to direct tourist markets
•    Central reservation service

Workshops and training programs are customized to meet the specific needs of the participants and participating organizations. Focus is on applied learning through individual and small group activities. The objective is to instill group interaction and collective decision making.

Participants are key representatives from the private sector, public sector and NGOs and comprise of individuals and organizations involved in local government, accommodation, food and beverage operations, transport & travel operations, destination sales and marketing, guiding and interpretative services, local community, financial institutions as well as lower & higher education institutes.

Workshop Topics.
Workshop topics may include:
1.    Developing Integrated Rural Tourism Products
2.    Effective Marketing of Integrated Rural Tourism
3.    Community Planning for Integrated Rural Tourism
4.    Capacity Building for Local Agencies and Governmental Organizations
5.    Delivering Quality Service in the Tourism Industry
6.    Travel Workshops and Training Programs
7.    Developing Ecotourism Attractions and preparing Tourism Interpretative Documents
8.    Budgeting Skills and writing Financial Plans for financial institutions
9.    Developing and managing an Eco-Lodge
10.    Starting and managing a small tourism related business.

Practical lessons for the Community
The workshops are designed so that participants can apply what they learn through hands-on activities. Practical lessons from the Workshops include but not limited to:

•    Assessing strengths and weaknesses of a rural community
•    Weaving farmers into the tourism product
•    Designing a menu of integrated rural tourism products
•    Creating a logo and brochure
•    Developing a marketing plan
•    Creating a web site
•    Pricing the tourism product
•    Delivering quality service
•    Partnering with large tourism enterprises
•    Designing an interpretive program
•    Preparing progress reports and updates
•    Accounting of projects and formulation of financial procedures
•    Designing Internet website and use of online booking engines  

© Malaysian Ecotourism Association (MEA)
Powered by Wild Apricot. Try our all-in-one platform for easy membership management