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AZLIZAM AZIZ is a lecturer in Recreation Business at the Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He was the research specialist at the Travel and Tourism Research Center, Michigan State University (USA) from the period of 2000-2002. He obtained his PhD from the same school, specializing in tourism and marketing. He is actively involved in various tourism training programs for operators and government agencies both at local and international levels. He currently serves as a judge for Malaysian Tourism Award program.
In academia, Azlizam’s research in services has resulted in several publications such as the Anatolia International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, and several Travel and Tourism Research Association’s (TTRA) publications. He teaches Park and Recreation Administration and Organization, Wildland Management and Ecotourism, Recreation Business Management, and Outdoor Recreation Skills.
Azlizam is also a technical advisor to the Learning Forest Consultancy Services, a company which focus on propagating conservation values through its products and services. His consulting work related to nature-based tourism includes:
SHARING THE EXPERIENCES OF LOCAL COMMUNITY IN SMALL ECOTOURISM BUSINESSES AT KUALA TAHAN NATIONAL PARK, MALAYSIA
Azlizam Aziz and Za’aba Zainal Abidin
Many ecotourism destinations were developed with the dual purposes of resource conservation and local economic wellbeing. In order to achieve these noble goals, there is a need to understand and incorporate local community participation in ecotourism activity. The vital justification for such participation can be found in the form of linking the economic benefits and conservation. Interest in such linkage was the premises of the present study which was set in Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara) National Park- a wellknown ecotourism destination in Malaysia. The study was designed to examine the experience of the locals in businesses and how they benefited from their participation in ecotourism activities. Since similar study had been carried out in the area back in 1993, attempts were also made to compare the new findings with the previous study. A census was conducted in Kuala Tahan, of 69 locals who involve in businesses providing services to the ecotourists in the park. Results of the study demonstrate an encouraging businesses atmosphere in Kuala Tahan, and the locals are optimistic about the future of the area. Ecotourism in the area seemed to be very promising in delivering economic benefits at various levels of the local community. Economic success of ecotourism is of paramount importance for justifying or providing reasons for why ecotourism development should be promoted in environmentally sensitive areas like Kuala Tahan.
Several changes in business profiles as compared to the previous survey (1993) were also identified. Although most of the locals are still operating in the so-called ‘traditional types’ of business, some had explored and are thriving in new ventures. A number of problems which could impede the local business growth were also noted and corrective measures suggested.
Keywords: Ecotourism, Malaysia, Small Business