malaysia study tour2011

malaysia study tour2011Twelve participants representing various sectors (Tourism Council of Bhutan, Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division, Guide Association of Bhutan, Local Government (Phobji and Gangtey Gewog, Wangduephodrang), Phobjikha Environment Management Committee and RSPN) were on a four day study tour to various ecotourism destination in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 15-18 November 2011 experiencing the tropical rain forest fruits and tubers and sea foods,  the heavy afternoon convectional rainfall, and a very different eco-tourism experience.

The study tour was tailor made for the  Community-based Sustainable Tourism Development project (Phobjikha) for the Steering Committee Members and the local communities with two main objectives: 1. to gain practical knowledge / experience on community based sustainable tourism  activities initiated  by the local communities in Malaysia and 2. to learn practical experiences on ecotourism that would help the SC members and the locals to implement back home. The study tour destination included, among others, the following places:

malaysia study tour2011-21. Ulu Geroh, where Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower and the Rajah Brooke Birdwing butterfly- Malaysia’s national butterfly, a rare and protected species that can only be found in Peninsular Malaysia. Ulu Geroh eco-tourism program was initiated by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS an environmental NGO- www.mns.my) and the local indegenious people’s group called  the Sahabat Ekopelancongan Memulihara Alam Indah (SEMAI), (Friends of Ecotourism and Conservation of Beautiful Nature). The eco-tourism concept is centred around the protection and conservation of Rafflesia and the Rajah brooke Birdwing butterfly but at the same time economically benefitting the local people. The participants enjoyed watching magnificent butterfly and their strange and phenomenal behaviour, experienced local dishes, local dance and arts and crafts.

malaysia study tour2011-32. Sungai Sireh in Kuala Selangor is eco-tourism destination which has gained its popularity for promoting and hosting tourists/guests as an agro-tourism destination with homestay experience. This eco-tourism program represents partnership between the local people and the government and it is centered around agriculture and local lifestyle.. With some financial support from the Ministry of Agriculture and the technical and promotional support from the Ministry of Tourism Sungai Sireh was promoted as an agro-tourism destination starting with the 15 households. Later as the homestay program gained popularity with the members earning income from it the number of members had starting increasing. Currently the number of homestay members is 60 households. The registration for homestay is done through the agro-tourism homestay representative who makes sure that every household gets equal opportunity through equal distribution of guests. From the homestay package rate certain fee is included as management charge for the member representative office, for e.g. from the rate of MYR 50 charged per person per night MYR 35 is given to the homestay owner and MYR 15 is charged as the management fee.

Participants had opportunities to visit agriculture fields (sugarcane, bean, fruits) collectively owned by the community and stay at different homestays and experience the lifestyle of the Muslim community.

Gombak: Here the participants met with Mr. Raman- an indigenous Semai tribe and well experienced in local craft making from bamboos that he has learnt from his father. He aspires to preserve the culture and indigenous knowledge that he has gained from his forefathers and pass it down his children as well as to encourage the other members of his tribe to do the same. This is a case of individual initiative to promote eco-tourism and preserve and revive the indigenous culture.

malaysia study tour2011-4Mr. Raman made a demonstration on how to make a blow pipe and nose flute from bamboo. He then played the flute along with the Sewang dance music played by the women in his family. During that time the group also enjoyed the delicious meal prepared by the women in an indigenous way by cooking rice in a cane and roasting chicken and fishes on open fire.

The participants had a great opportunity to see the various models of ecotourism operation in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur namely; community-NGO partnership, Community-government partnership and individual initiative ecotourism programs, giving them the opportunity to look at the various aspects of eco-tourism management, conservation, agriculture and culture centered eco-tourism and the benefits of ecotourism to the local communities. The participants also visited the Tourism Malaysia Office (http://www.tourism.gov.my/) and the Malaysian Nature Society Secretariat. The MNS organised the entire study tour program in Malaysia in collaboration with Japan Environmental and Education Forum and RSPN.

Reported by Tshering Phuntsho and Tshering Choki, December 2011