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Title: Packaging myths for tourism : the case of the Rungus of Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia
Author: Ong, Puay Liu
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis is about the images and dilemmas of Rungus tourism. The Rungus community of Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia has found its way into the country's development plans and tourism policies. Rungus' faces and special features associated with Rungus lifestyle and livelihood appeared in travel guidebooks, printed brochures and websites of Malaysian-based tour companies. What happens when the 'most traditional ethnic group' in Sabah who lived in an area "rarely visited by tourists" - the Kudat district - becomes part of the media promotion and the tourist gaze? For the Rungus community, the objective of participation in the tourism sector is to improve their economic livelihood and standard of living. The tour operators who include the Rungus as part of their tour itinerary are interested in the profit making potential of selling the Rungus as an isolated, unique and traditional community. The tourists, as consumers of the Rungus product, come to Rungus territory to seek the authentic tourist experience - the feeling of being whole and balanced through revisiting the past in the Rungus present. The research focused on the two main aspects. The first aspect concerned the Rungus product. What was the product offered to the tourist and in what form? The second aspect concerned the Rungus dilemma, which basically involved two central issues: the problem of authenticity and the development paradox. Data from the ethnographic fieldwork carried out in four tourist-designated villages showed that the Rungus villagers' hopes of tourism did not materialise. They could not depend on tourism for the desired additional case income, as tourists arrivals were unpredictable and not regular. Instead, the villagers showed discontentment over the features the tourism authorities chose to represent the Rungus people. In terms of the development dilemma, the Rungus people were caught in a catch-22 situation: the success of Rungus tourism depended on the Rungus people's purportedly primitive existence. The Rungus wanted development and progress but the tourists wanted them to be undeveloped and traditional. The question is essentially one of presentation: what is the alternative to the present form of presentation of Rungus tourism?
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available