|Ahmad Mahdzan | Noran Fauziah | Fairy Mahdzan | TeamHardCorePavement|
Mangroves And Ecotourism: Ecological Or Economical?
Ecotourism has become a buzzword in the last decade or two, and almost every country that has some natural resources and historical heritage has jumped on to the bandwagon to develop this sub-sector of the tourism industry. Tropical countries such as Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries see mangrove swamps (fashionably classified as wetlands nowadays) as another opportunity to develop ecotourism in their respective countries.
What is ecotourism? What is mangrove ecotourism? What are the motives for the new enthusiasm in promoting mangroves as ecotourism destinations? Is it driven by ecological or “economical” motives? What is there to “enjoy” watching a coastal swamp filled with several tree species that have strange root structure and fancy seedlings called “propagules”? What is the satisfaction or “utility” to be derived by tourists and visitors to see these swamps? Can it be valued?
What are the visitors’ expectations of these swampy destinations? Can the host country guarantee satisfaction to these visitors? What is the purpose of asking tourists to “enjoy” the mangroves and their associated flora, fauna and economic activities? Should visitors contribute a fee to see these “wonders of the tropics” for their enjoyment? Or simply put, “since you enjoy, you pay”.
Should they be allowed to use the “park” for free; i.e. let taxpayers pick up the bill? How does one go about fixing a reasonable fee, knowing that visitors have spent a substantial sum of money already to travel to the site? What should be the role of the private sector? Does the Matang Mangrove, which celebrates its centennial anniversary this year, appear to be a “viable” ecotourism destination?
This paper attempts to discuss these issues but will not provide final answers; the objective is to provoke and stimulate discussion for the session.
The tourism sector in Malaysia ranks second as a generator of foreign exchange, and provides jobs to many people employed in the hotel and transportation industries, as well as those in the restaurant and other tourism-related business.
The Malaysian government has identified this sector as a potential growth sector, and within this sector, several sites have been targeted for tourism development, as one effort to overcome the economic slowdown at the close of the last century. These sites include Langkawi, Tioman, Pulau Payar, Matang Mangroves, etc.
This paper attempts to discuss the following clusters of questions but
will not provide the final answers; they are purely opinions of the writer
based on reading the literature, and a field visit; and the objective
is to provoke and stimulate discussion for the session.
* Former professor of agricultural economics at UPM, former professor of economics at UUM and UPSI, and former Tun Razak Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA. To send email, please visit this page.
Papers by Ahmad Mahdzan (PhD) and Noran Fauziah (PhD)
Papers by Farah Mahdzan