Managing the development of tourism : a case study of Sabah, Malaysia
Sabah (Malaysia) is a recent entrant to the tourist industry; aiming to: tap tourism's economic and employment possibilities, use tourism to sustain the local culture and traditions, and to promote national integration. The main aim of the research is to develop management strategies for recent entrants to the tourism industry such as Sabah. The analyses of tourism resources, manpower, visitor characteristics and trends, tourism organisation and policy, and economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism are the means used in the thesis to explore the current strengths and shortcomings of tourism in Sabah and so provide for strategy development. The scope is deliberately broad. The main findings are: (1) Sabah possesses attractive tourism resources but these are underdeveloped; (2) policy and organisational infrastructure is in place to support tourist development; (3) manpower is not a serious problem; (4) the majority of visitors from outside Sabah arrive by air and, hence, air accessibility is important; (5) these trends have not been strongly assisted by marketing, so there is scope for further efforts of this kind; (6) seasonality is not a crucial issue; (7) local visitors are important, but have been ignored; (8) the distribution of tourists and their income is uneven and mainly focussed in the capital town. This reflects the uneven regional employment and development structure, so constrains the economic potential of tourism; and (9) the social and environmental impacts are not yet serious but these are emerging and have the potential to become serious if ignored. The thesis proposes development and mitigating frameworks, which identify seven key factors crucial for building a competitive tourism infrastructure - namely: appropriate and accessible tourism technology, strong institutional problem solving capacity, effective marketing, appropriate physical infrastructure, available and flexible capital for investment, skilled and adaptable workforce/receptive population and entrepreneurship. Strategies that are easily implemented and crucial are placed under the short-term; more difficult ones and those that need to be continued beyond the short-term are included under the medium and long-term. The strategies are assigned to particular organisations for implementation so duplication can be avoided. The thesis also propose a spatial development strategy. It considers the tourist catchment potentials of different regions and their resource strengths. A spatial development hierarchy is proposed with development specialisation that is practical and recognises the regional tourist resources and catchment potential. The strategy is directed towards attracting tourists by winning market niches and avoiding regional competition. The proposal includes the role of local tourism to enhance sustainability. Marketing approaches (image building, tourist and market targetting) to support the tourism development hierarchy are also discussed.