The role of government for ecotourism development: focusing on east coast economic region.

Author:Bhuiyan, Md. Anowar Hossain
 
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INTRODUCTION

Government participation is most visible in developing economies where tourism planning and promotion tend to be controlled directly by governments. Government agencies taking greater interest, allocating funds and time to collaborative projects and playing a vital role in the planning, development and management of tourism initiatives. The factors that have helped to change in governments' approach include: The awareness of the importance of tourism as a global, national and regional socioeconomic engine; the potential for tourism to contribute to environmental management and enhancement; the profile of tourism as a tool for international development; increased lobbying by industry. Governments are motivated to play an integral and collaborative role in tourism planning and management and the private sector requires government assistance to ensure the sustainability of tourism. Sustainability issues affecting tourism on the agenda of governments as government agencies have control over a wide range of features that affect the maximization of benefits tourism can deliver to communities (Simpson, 2008). Governments are able to support tourism through marketing, information services, education and advice through public-private collaborations (Hall, 1999).

Government can play a role in the management and development of the people who aspire and work in tourism. The role of government with respect to tourism policy, development and planning varies according to the perceived importance of tourism as a sector within the national and local economy and political philosophies that inform economic and social policy (Baum and Szivas, 2008). National tourism administrations have sought to facilitate co-ordination among ministries and work in partnership with nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, professional and community groups to implement strategic tourism initiatives (Goymen, 2000). All local or national governments, they have a policy for tourism, whether it represents an active involvement for tourism development (Hall, 1994). Governments should define the substance of tourism policy. Their contract with private initiative and society in general to enhance the development of tourism must change considerably (Fayos-Solfi, 1996).

According to Hall (2008) "Government helps shape the economic framework for the tourism industry although international economic factors relating to exchange rates, interest rates and investor confidence are increasingly important, helps provide the infrastructure and educational requirements for tourism, establishes the regulatory environment in which business operates and takes an active role in promotion and marketing. Again, governmental financing institutions have opened special credit programs for private sector tourism enterprises (Becker, 1995). As Page and Thorn (2002) argued; national tourism plan was needed to achieve more balanced, equitable and beneficial patterns of tourism activity and development for destinations and local communities.

In order to promote regional tourism, local governments are required to improve tourist spots and to disseminate regional tourism information at home and abroad (Ishikawa and Fukushige, 2007). Local governments, regardless of their political orientation, view tourism as a way to develop the economy. From this assumption, they strive to look for elements and come up with images that could be used for the purposes of tourism to contribute both to local income generation and economic growth and also subsequently benefit them socially and politically (Ballesteros and Ramirez, 2007).

Ecotourism is one of the boosting and promising tourism segmentation in the world today. Many countries of the world build up their economic advancement by using this types' tourism (Bhuiyan et al., 2011). Ecotourism has emerged under the rubric of sustainable tourism as one solution to help protect the ecological and cultural resources of tourism sites, provide local economic opportunity and give travelers greater environmental awareness. Ecotourism can incorporate elements of 'nature-based', 'adventure', 'alternative' or 'green' tourism (Fallon and Kriwoken, 2003). The Ecotourism Society (1992) has defined ecotourism as ''responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people". According to Orams (1995), ecotourism consists of the following components: conservation benefits, the nature-based experience, the setting and economic and social benefits. Ecotourism should benefit conservation through improved management of visited natural areas. The core precepts of ecotourism are conservation of natural and cultural heritage; empowerment and provision of financial benefits for local communities; minimal environmental impact; environmental and cultural education and respect for tourists (Ah-Choy, 2010).

Tourism industry is a key foreign exchange earner for Malaysia, contributing to over 40% of the country's balance of payment on 2005 (Rietbergen-McCracken and Abaza, 2000). The industry has provides an important source of income generation and employment opportunity to the country. Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earning sector for the country after manufacturing. The industry provides an important source of income, employment and economic development to the country. Tourism industry effects positively on the economy of the country by increasing in foreign exchange earnings and employment opportunities. The Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism had established in 1987 and later upgraded it to the Ministry of Tourism in 2004. The government allocated significant amount of fund to tourism industry besides providing sufficient basic infrastructure. Malaysia has ranked [16.sup.th] in terms of global inbound tourism receipt, capturing approximately 2% of global market share in 2008. The tourism industry employs 1.7 million workers or approximately 16% of total employment in 2008 (Malaysia Unit Perancang Ekonomi, 2007). Tourism industry in Malaysia has been growing considerably in recent years. On the world scale Malaysia, is ranked...

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