Nature-based tourism is an important part of the global tourism industry, and its components and features vary considerably from one destination to another. In Malaysia, location, quality and quantity of natural resources, and their infrastructure have not been well documented in the past. Thus, this paper attempts to assess local community-based management for potential ecotourism in South Kelantan which is Gunung Reng, Jeli as case study. The study investigated the local community involvement in managing Gunung Reng as tourist spot at their place. The instrument used during the survey was a semi-structured questionnaire. Community analysis were carried out and based on data collected using face-to-face questionnaire interviews with the villages and community leader. The findings of the study is hoped to be beneficial to the government agencies in order to obtain a better understanding of the unique characteristics of people and will use this information as an input for their planning strategies to develop and implement a community-based tourism in Gunung Reng for better living conditions for the community people. The location is suitable for outdoor activities such as jungle trekking, hiking, swimming and fishing. The main objective of this study was to determine local community involvement in resource protection for ecotourism through a collaborative management arrangement. The findings of the study provide support for the involvement of local community in Gunung Reng management such as the Gunung Rengs’ land management, protection of Gunung Reng resources, ecotourism practices and its overall development.
1. Tourism and nature-based tourism
Tourism has grown rapidly to become one of the world’s foremost economic phenomena. The industry, which encompasses transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, and recreation and entertainment is currently the second largest GDP contributing industry for Malaysia. According to official statistics, travel and tourism contributed to nearly RM50 billion in total receipts in 2010, an increase of over RM9 billion from the previous year. The arrivals also reached a record high of 24.5 million in 2010 and minimum value of 5 million in 1998. There is no doubt that travel and tourism industry plays a major role generating foreign income, creating new employment and also stimulating economic development. Tourism has a major impact on both people and the environment, hence the growing awareness of the need for tourism to be sustainable.
Despite encountering challenges such as occurrences of war and conflict, terrorism, natural disasters and health epidemic, the travel and tourism industry will remain a significant income earner and driver of growth for the country. Looking back, the rapid development of the travel and tourism industry is ascribed to the variety of new products that were actively pursued by the government since the formulation of the Malaysian tourism policy back in 1992. Of the product development priorities underlined in the policy, ecotourism was identified as one form of tourism to be expanded and sustained. The widespread interest in ecotourism among tourism players is due to its direct linkage to the greater prospects for sound and sustainable tourism development with strong possibilities for appropriate local participation and shared responsibility for preserving the environment, cultural heritage and people’s way of life.
With acknowledgement that ecotourism will expand at a faster rate than other tourism products, the commitment o develop ecotourism in Malaysia was endorsed in the drawing up of the national Ecotourism master Plan in 1996 by the World Wildlife Fund for nature (WWF). The plan was to provide a general framework in assisting the government in developing the country’s ecotourism potential.
The World Tourism organization estimates that international tourist arrivals in 2020 will reach to 1.6 billion...