Agri-Tourism in Niah District

Agri-Tourism in Niah District. Tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. It is a major growth engine for socio-economic development and contributes towards poverty alleviation especially in the rural areas (Fun, Chiun, Songan, & Nair, 2014).  According to Statista (2018) the tourism industry contributes about US$8.27 trillion with global international tourism revenue estimated at US$1.34 trillion. If there is a good trickle down of the revenue to the local levels, this can contribute to poverty alleviation.

The major challenge is that most tourism activities are concentrated around urban areas, and even when these activities take place in the rural areas, they are controlled by business organisations and the local residents benefit very little. One form of tourism that has ability to trickle down the revenues to the rural areas is agri-tourism. Agri-tourism is a form fo specialised tourism. It is an innovative and diversification strategy where farms include recreation and leisure activities for tourists to increase revenues. Agri-tourism has the ability to change the fortunes of the rural areas because it diversifies the revenue streams. One of the areas where agri-tourism is well explored is in Niah District, Malaysia. This study looks into the exploitation of agri-tourism in Niah District and areas where it can be improved. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.

Agri-tourism is an innovative strategy that diversifies farm revenues. Through agri-tourism, farms can include creational, educational, and leisure activities for tourists, bringing in major economic and non-economic benefits to the farmers, visitors, and the community at large.  Tourist helps to reinforce the agricultural life in the rural areas and it creates an opportunity for agricultural entrepreneurs to increase income by providing supporting services. This form of tourism helps to preserve agricultural and cultural heritage and greatly improves the economic situation of the local communities (Jayaraman, Lin, Yap, & Ong, 2010).

Therefore, agri-tourism is considered a more sustainable form of tourism compared to others like beach tourisms as it promotes conservation of the local environment and culture. One of the advantages of agri-tourism is that it takes place in the rural areas and ensures that tourism revenues trickle down to the local communities.  Agri-tourism is growing in different segments. Apart from farm attractions, there is a growing demand for simple countryside walking, accommodation in countryside cottages, watching folk festivals, traditional medicine and heating, shopping in rural areas for locally produced goods, and others. Therefore, apart from farming activities and products, agri-tourism brings together a host of support services and attractions that revolutionized the rural economy. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.

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Boneo forest, one of the strategic agri-tourism attractions in the area is under intense threat of destruction by palm oil plantations. The sustainability challenge is also discussed by Pedersen, Mertz, and Hummelmose (2006), who argues that commercial logging and shifting cultivation, threatens long term sustainability of the agricultural practices. If Niah District is to reap the benefits of agri-tourism, it must find ways of improving agricultural sustainability. Shifting cultivation is archaic and non-productive because it leads to destruction of the ecology while logging leads to deforestation. The two practices should be mitigated by instilling proper agricultural practices that ensure sustainability and attract more tourists. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.

Agri-Tourism in Niah District

In summary, agri-tourism in Niah District is a self-sustaining industry that is supposed by small and large scale farmers, as well as a host of support services. The rich agricultural and cultural practices works in tandem to create a self-sustaining industry that attracts thousands of visitors annually. However, there are critical areas that should be improved as has been discussed. There is a need to increase pairing of tourist attractions to leverage on attraction like Niah caves that brings more tourists and converting them to agri-tourists. Also, new marketing approaches will attract more agri-tourists to Niah District because currently, agri-tourism potential of the region is not well publicised. Lastly, there is a danger of losing the rich agricultural practices to deforestation and shift cultivation. Implementing new sustainable agrictural practices will improve agri-tourism now and in the future. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.

References

Andersen, A.O., Bruun, T.B., Egay, K., Fengers, M., Klee, S. … Villanueva, V.S. (2016). Negotiating development narratives within large-scale oil palm projects on village lands in Sarawak, Malaysia.  The Geographical Journal, 182, 4, 364-374. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.

Cooke, F.M. (2006). Expanding State Spaces Using ʹIdleʹ Native Customary Land in Sarawak. In Fadzilah Majid Cooke State, Communities and Forests In Contemporary Borneo (25-44). ANU Press.

Fun, F.S., Chiun, L.M., Songan, P., & Nair, V. (2014). The impact of local communities’ involvement and relationship quality on sustainable rural tourism in rural area, Sarawak. The moderating impact of self-efficacy. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 144,60-65. 

Jayaraman, K., Lin, S., Yap, L.L., & Ong, L.W. (2010). Sustainable Ecotourism: The Case of East Malaysia. TEAM Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 7(1), 27-44.

Jiwan, M., Alan, R. & Lepun, P. (2007). Agro-eco-tourism potential and benefits for sustaining Kelabit community in Bario. International Conference on Agricultural Extension, 1-10. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.

Mertz, O., Egay, K., Bruun, T.B., & Colding, T.S. (2013). The last Swiddens of Sarawa, Malaysia. Human Ecology, 41,109-118.

Pedersen, M., Mertz, O., & Hummelmose, G. (2006). The potential for coexistence between sfhiting cuiltivation and commercie logging in Sarawak, In Fadzilah Majid Cooke State, Communities and Forests In Contemporary Borneo (, 181-193). ANU Press.

Statista (2018). Global travel and tourism industry – Statistics & Facts. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/topics/962/global-tourism/. Agri-Tourism in Niah District.