According to The World Tourism Organization (WTO), Tourism is currently the largest industry in the world. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) is expected there is going to be 1.6 billion worldwide tourists by 2020, compared to 2002, there is only 715 million worldwide tourists in 2002. Therefore, a lot of countries, no matter under developed and developing, tourism main source of foreign currency earnings and creating job opportunities for people.
According to McIntosh et al, tourism can be classified as the figure of the phenomena and relationships take place from the dealings of tourists, hospitality service provider, business dealer, the host governments, the origin of the governments and local communities in the process of attracting and hosting these tourists and other visitor.
According to Page, tourism as a consumer activity is continuously being developed by the tourism industry and person businesses, as marketing is used to develop new concept, products and services and destinations. This reflected in the international interest in developing niche products: holiday days focused on specific interest and activities.
Murphy argue that, as the tourism grew in size and scope it become obvious that this industry, like others, vie for limited resources and capital, that its non-consumptive attributes did not necessarily avoid the corrosion or modification of attractions.
2.2 Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism model is related to the ethic of sustainable development, which in conjecture supported that people struggle to meet their own needs, most probably measured against the standard of living currently enjoyed (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). Sustainable development can defined as the sum of the trade-off between the need s and objective of the present, and those of the future (Archer and Cooper, 1994). According to Butler (1993), he challenges the use of the term sustainable tourism, in spite of its currency, arguing that it implies the maintenance of tourism itself, whatever its impacts, rather than the maintenance of the human or physical context within which the tourism occurs.
According to Butler et al supported the term sustainability tourism development, involving tourism which is development and in such a way that area (community and environment), in such a scale, it will remain practical in an inaccurate term, not reduce or change the phenomena (human and physical), of which there is such a level, its success development and prohibited activities and processes as well as other benefits.
Clarke (1997) suggested that the development of the idea of sustainable tourism involve four approaches which are polar opposite, whereby sustainable tourism and mass tourism were seen as polar opposites; a range, whereby sustainable tourism and mass tourism were no longer seen as polar opposites, but rather it was acknowledge that there were different shades of sustainable and mass tourism, which would merge at the middle; movement, an approach which suggested that positive action could make mass tourism mare sustainable; convergence, is the idea that all types of tourism can strive to be sustainable. (J. Swarbrooke, 1999)
Every researchers and authors have the different description and definition on the term of ecotourism. Out of the variety of definition about ecotourism, there is one of the most quoted definition came from Hector Ceballos-Lascurain (1987:13). He defined that, the ecotourism or also known as ecological tourism can classify as a kind of tourism that involves travelling relatively without interruption. Ecotourism also can defined as travelling to pure natural areas with the main purpose of studying, admiring, and take pleasure in the natural landscape and its wild flora and fauna as well as any obtainable cultural aspects (both past and present) that can be found in these area.(Luck, 2003)
Ceballos-Lascurain (1990) also argued, nature-oriented tourism means scientific, aesthetic and philosophical move toward to take a trip, even though ecological tourist is not a skilled scientist, artist or philosopher. The most important reason is that the individual who carry out ecotourism has the opportunity of getting closer with natural environment in a manner usually not existing in the city life that normally full of pressure. (Weaver, 2009)
Based on Stanford Research Institute (1990), the ecotourism characterized as the fastest growing sector of the whole international tourism industry, it has increased rate of 30 per cent per year. Ecotourism observed the impacts, both positive and negative, of domestics and international tourism. Other than that, ecotourism is also a kind of tourism product that promotes protection and support sustainable development whilst having a minimum impact on the environment. Ecotourism also involves travelling to distant locations to learning the flora, fauna and wildlife animal in their native habitats. It also gives the chance to see how local people live and work. (Abraham, 2010)
According to Hundloe, to summarize, good understanding of services, cultural sensitivity and involvement with the local community are the three main issues which differentiate ecotourism from its cousins – green tourism and sustainable tourism.
2.3.1 Significance of Ecotourism
Sierra et all (1999) believed, ecotourism can be describe as ‘one of the most potential tools in the arsenal of the contemporary conservationists’. Ecotourism is an environmentally friendlier and potentially more sustainable alternative to extractive activities. For example, logging, farming, mining, or hunting of wildlife. Local people may have an opportunity being away from a cycle of poverty and, by sharing their information among local people and tourist about the local topography and ecology, which can helps to build up a stronger awareness of community pride and a wider, more global perspective that is aware of the importance of biodiversity to human being in the future.
Ecotourism provide a prospect for long-term protection of the environment and its resources. The hot spot of biological diversity is mostly the least developing country which is the economy of the country is particularly in drive people to destroy the natural environment. Ecotourism also provide an opportunity to protect the environment and biological diversity that almost extinct. Whereby, this is also chance to generate more income to hold research efforts. An eco-tourist attractions, the program registration fee can be further directed to the scientific knowledge about the ecological environment; support captivity, rehabilitation or reforestation; or man-made impact monitoring, to ensure that does not reduce access resources.
According to Sierra et al (op cit), to further verify the growth of global tourism, the relationship sandwiched between tourism and the environment is requires being clearly management to reduce the harmful and capitalize on valuable impacts. The appearance of ecotourism gives emphasis to the need for future professionals to develop suitable skills in tourism and ecological management.
2.3.2 Ecotourism in Malaysia
Malaysia is one of the countries from South-East Asia and it is well-known as a multicultural country. Multicultural has not only made the country as a food paradise, it has also made Malaysia place to holding hundred colorful festivals. Malaysia was also famous with the warm and friendly local people.
According to Smith, In Malaysia, tourism sector is currently the second-largest industry after the manufacturing was the largest industry in Malaysia. The government organization responsible on promoting tourism industry in Malaysia is Tourism Malaysia or also name as Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.
Because of the geographical background, Malaysia is as miscellaneous as its culture. The country is separated into two parts, peninsula of Malaysia with eleven states and two states on the northern part of Borneo which is Sabah and Sarawak. The country is covers a total area of 329 758 km2 in South East Asia. The typical weather of the country is always warm and humid all through the year. Malaysia was listed as one of the most botanically diverse countries in the world. Malaysia is an amazing country with numerous abundance of biodiversity. The area of the country is granted with many natural destination and attraction such as flora, fauna and wildlife, beautiful coast, exotic marine aqua life, large rain forests and the biggest and oldest caves in the world. (Daud, 2010)
A unique natural and cultural asset diversification is what Malaysia really had. Therefore, eco-tourism in Malaysia was very favorable, feasible, sustainable and long-lasting form of tourism. In the year of 2008, Malaysia has won The Best Ecotourism award by TravelWeekly (Asia) during the Industry Award 2008 which’s held in Singapore. It is the second time that Malaysia was honored after 2007. It was an important accomplishment for Malaysia that proved itself for its natural environment as an attraction for tourism and unique geographical layout.
Malaysia was grouped as one of the twelve mega-biologically diverse countries in the world. Around the whole Malaysia, there have a minimum of 15,000 species of flora, 286 species of mammals, 4,000 species of marine aqua life, 150,000 species of invertebrates in addition to the numerous micro-organisms. There is 75% of land area in Malaysia remains forested and 60% of the area is virgin rainforest. The virgin rainforest is the habitat or home for the diverse group of flora and fauna and other living organism. The ecology scientists believed there may still be a number of other floras and faunas that have not been discovered living beneath its canopy.
There are beautiful oceans with several of marine aqua life that rely on the delicate balance of an unharmed environment surrounding Malaysia. From the other side of the world’s sea turtles make nests on the coast of Malaysia pilgrimage thousands of miles. Likewise, the visitors from all corners of the world visit our shores every year just to witness the magical underwater world. The a variety of activities such as jungle trekking, caving, hiking, river cruising, rock climbing, diving water rafting and bird watching was offered to the tourists by Malaysia. The Malaysia government concerned about the natural and cultural assets therefore, they have organized and create the event to let people more aware of the importance of preservation-based ecotourism. The examples of event consist of the Tabin Wildlife Conservation Conquest which located in Sabah, Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race in Pahang and Taman Negara Eco-Challenge competition in Pahang.
Malaysia’s been categorized as one of the top ecotourism destinations to visit in the world. The region is further growth by the enclosure of the Kinabalu Park in Sabah and Mulu National Park in Sarawak listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage sites list. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has also been recognized Langkawi Island or Pulau Lankawi which is situated in Kedah one of the northern states of the Peninsular Malaysia as a Geopark which mean a destination that contained outstanding geological landscapes in the world. Proudly, Langkawi Island is the one and only Geopark in the South East Asia and one of 50 among the whole world. In the meantime, there is two other destination which is Taman Negara National Park in Pahang, Batang Ai National Park in Sarawak and the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary also been submitted by Malaysia Government as the nominations for UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for future consideration .
The Malaysia Government was promoting the ecotourism of their country to worldwide; meanwhile they also create awareness to minimize the impact on the importance of sustainable development tourism and of balancing maintenance and development. The Ministry of Tourism Malaysia wants to provide the policies and guidelines for the reliable development of ecotourism. Therefore, they have officially taken on the National Ecotourism Plan (NEP) to ensure the policies and strategy for the conscientious development of ecotourism in the country itself.
2.3.3 Ecotourism in Penang
Penang or Pulau Pinang is one of the states in Malaysia with the covers a total area of 1,048 km2 (404.6 sq mi). It has been a long time that Penang described as Pearl of the Orient and is one of the most romantic and picturesque cities in all of Asia.
Penang was one of the top holiday destinations in Malaysia. The state was combination of an island and a narrow piece of land. The area of the island is 285km2 and it is separated from Seberang Prai (formerly Province Wellesley) – a hinterland of 737km2 on the mainland. It is connected by The Penang Bridge, which is listed as one of the longest bridge in Asia with the length of 13.5 km. Ferry service also available to connect the island and the mainland.
Georgetown is the capital of Penang. On July 2008, Georgetown was listed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the World Heritage List. The achievement of Penang was based on the certain sections of Penang has a large amount of pre-war buildings among the South East Asia country which are still undamaged. As a result, Penang Island is currently known as Penang Heritage City.
There are several of attractions around Penang, foods and shopping, from heritage to eco-tourism, and from beautiful beach to health tourism. In the year of 2009, Penang was ranked 22nd between the 44 top places to go of New York Times. Penang is one of the two destinations in Southeast Asia in this ranking.
Due to Penang having a tropical climate, it offers some ecotourism products in its state. The Botanical Gardens and the Tropical Spice Garden, both of the attractions were the ecotourism products of Penang. While the Penang’s National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) consist of a lot of eco attraction such as the immaculate Pantai Kerachut beach and also a beautiful lake which is the sea water and fresh water that do not mix up together. The park also provided the place for picnics, fishing, swimming and jungle trekking. Another ecotourism product in Penang is The Butterfly Farm which located at Batu Feringghi is a place where various types of colorful butterflies allocated in one destination and it is also a breeding research centre.
In Penang Island there is a Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang’s National Park) at the northwest corner. The National Park covers the total area of 1,266 hectares of mangroves, coastal hill dipterocarps, beaches, and rocky shores. Among the Peninsular Malaysia, Penang’s National Park ranks second in size to Pahang National Park.
As a city national park, Penang National Park has probability to be listed in the UNESCO world heritage listing. It is because there was numerous species of flowering plants and animals- together with rare and endangered ones – it just takes around 45 minutes starting from the city centre, Georgetown. Meticulous planning and infrastructure will strengthen the park’s potential for ecotourism. Inside the park, there are only trails, footpaths, walkways and no roads. Penang National Park has created awareness for Penangites about the impacts of ecotourism and also the importance of sustainable development.
Penang was also famous with the beautiful and adventures beaches around the island. Batu Ferringhi is famous and it is one that can visit. In Batu Ferringhi and also Teluk Bahang, every part of these area are surrounding by the beaches and now the beach is getting cleaner compared with last few years where most of the tourist complaint about the cleanliness at the beach area. Along the coastline of Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang, there was a lot of international resort available with the standard service and offering a host of water-based recreational sport facilities. Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Hard Rock Penang, Park Royal Hotel and Holiday Inn are the international resorts that available along the coastline.
Although there is quite a lot of ecotourism products in Penang but, the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng has defended his suggestion to start a tiger park in Relau, This is because he wanted that the state to have a new ecotourism plan. The purpose of Penang Tiger Park is to become a new ecotourism product in Penang that can use to attract more international and domestic tourists to visit to Penang. (Looi, 2009)
2.4 Tiger Park in other Countries
Tiger Park was defined as a place to protect the endangered tiger as well as breeding herds of tigers. There are just a few of destinations categorized as Tiger Park in the whole world. Based on the research, there are only a few countries have Tiger Park existing as tourist destination which is Siberian Tiger Park, Harbin China, Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mai, Thailand and India which have the biggest amount of Tiger Park in the world.
2.4.1 Siberian Tiger Park
Siberian Tiger Park is the world’s largest Siberian tiger breeding base in Harbin, China. Once the human being spoiled the natural environment, many animals threatened with extinction, and a number of species have become extinct. The Siberian tiger is one of the endangered. It is the largest category of felid in the world and also known as the King of the Forest. Siberian Tiger was listed by the China Government as one of the first-class national protected animals of China other than panda in the year of 1980s. Siberian Tiger Park is built in the year of 1996 by the government to preserve this precious species.
The Siberian Tiger Park is situated at Songhua River which is located at the northwest of Harbin, with the total area of 1,440,000 square meters (355.8 acres). The Tiger Park has covered with 500 rare breed Siberian tigers, with 100 of the tiger are visible to visitors. Other than Siberian Tiger, lynx, black pumas, white tigers, lions, and leopards as well as Bengali tigers also can be seen inside the park.
The park was divided into ten different areas, which together with the young tiger area, the mature tiger area, and the king tiger area. There is also a walking area and a platform for visitor for tigers seeing. It is different compared to other common zoos, because the Siberian Tiger Park exchanges the roles of human being and animals.
According to Foxnews.com (2007), the number of Siberian tigers has kept on increasing at Siberian Tiger Park China. Which was good news because of Siberian tigers is one of the world’s rarest animals. In the other hand, there are also some serious cases happened in the park. Based on My Daily News.com (2011), a Siberian tiger killed a tour bus driver in the park. The tiger attacked the bus driver when he got out of bus to check on the bus that got stuck in the snow at Siberian Tiger Park which is a violated park safety rule. The tourists watched helplessly in horror. The management of the tiger park is expecting most of the bus drivers to understand the danger of the animals.
2.4.2 Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mai (The Tiger Temple) or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua is a Theravada Buddhist temple that located in Thailand. It has been a refuge for numerous of species of endangered animals especially tigers. The tigers were always walking around the temple once a day and the visitors can get really closer to see or maybe touch them. (http://www.hemmy.net/)
According to Alexander (2009), Abbot Pra Ajarn Phusit the monk teacher of the temple has been taking good care of the abandoned tigers and also the other animals in Kanchanaburi Temple which is the famous Tiger Temple since 1990s. Once he found the abandoned tiger cubs in the provinces nearby the forest, he will bring them back to the temple and provide a proper care for them.
Pra Ajarn is a very kind person and also an inspirational man who doesn’t mind been snapped pictures by the visitor’s cameras. Once the visitors have been visit to the temple, most of the visitor can feel the lovely relationship among the tigers and Pra Ajam. They are always staying close with each other. Pra Ajam won’t feel scare when facing the tigers. After year by year, the amount of tigers kept on increasing to 75 tigers living at the temple in the year of 2008. However, there was some critics to the temple because of the population growth of the tigers is a main problem, generally because the people commented the temple is employing tactics which are illegal.
In the year of 2008, Jachinthe Bouchar, the world renowned animal trainer had stopover to the tiger temple for her second time. She was staying there for two and a half weeks to trains the staffs and the monks about the techniques of training the Tigers. A planned new animal enclosure will be used for training clubs to take care themselves, and giving them the necessary skills to continue to exist in the wild.
2.5 Penang Tiger Park
Penang Tiger Park is a future plan as an ecotourism product in Penang which suggested by Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang.