Tourism potential in the Islamic world
By NOR AZARUDDIN HUSNI NURUDDIN
Entrepreneurship is vital in growing tourism ventures and attracting visitors to Malaysia.
WHENEVER people talk about entrepreneurship, the concept that comes to mind is about people starting their own business.
Entrepreneurship is nothing more than the power to make things happen.
According to Oscar Motomura, an entrepreneur is anyone capable of generating results in any area of human activity. For example, many housewives can also be considered entrepreneurs by the way they run their households.
However, some studies define entrepreneurship as a process of identifying, evaluating and pursuing opportunities through creativity, innovation and transformation to produce new products, processes and values that are beneficial.
The word “entrepreneurship” is derived from the French entreprendre, which means to undertake or to do something. There are several fields of entrepreneurship – regular, green, social and sustainable.
Sustainability or the concern for long-term viability covers three main dimensions: economic, social and environment.
Economic viability can be defined as business activities that must be economically profitable.
Social viability to individuals or private gains are activities that must promote community and social well-being while environmental viability refers to activities which must be ecologically friendly.
What does “sustainable entrepreneurship” mean?
It is the creation of new ventures based on the understanding of the ways social, financial and ecological systems intersect.
Developing the ability to analyse these systems in-depth strengthens entrepreneurial skills in environments ranging from non-profit attempts at creating social change to companies trying to implement more sustainable business practices.
However, another definition of sustainable entrepreneurship is the realisation of sustainability innovations aimed at the mass market and providing benefits to the larger parts of society.
The Government has played a strong role in ensuring environmental sustainability through a number of programmes, including the development of tourism entrepreneurs.
In 2010, the tourism sector in Malaysia attracted 25 million foreign tourists, generating a revenue of RM56bil. Malaysia’s tourism market is forecast to show a steady growth of 5%-7% per year and we expect a total of 3.2 million tourist arrivals in 2015 (Business Monitor International).
Tourism is one of the priority areas under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2010-2015).
For example, the Kedah Government’s main focus is to attract more than three million tourists a year to Langkawi, with a projected annual tourism-related gross income of RM3.8bil by 2015.
Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has said the revenue receipts from the approximately three million recorded tourist arrivals in Langkawi last year amounted to about RM2.6bil.
In Perak, the focus is on the uniqueness of the Lenggong Valley archaeology site, which must be protected to maintain its recogni-tion as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz cautioned that if the site was not well protected, the Unesco recognition obtained a year ago could be retracted.
Lenggong Valley is a unique outdoor museum and features one of the first human civilisations in South-East Asia. It is the fourth site in Malaysia to receive the Unesco recognition after Malacca, George Town, the Kinabalu Park and Mulu National Park.
The Perak Man found in the Gunung Runtuh Cave is one of the oldest and most complete human skeletal remains in South-East Asia, estimated to be 10,000 to 11,000 years old.
Nazri said any development at the site must be implemented carefully to protect the “outstanding universal values”.
Malaysia is also able to promote Islamic tourism as it is considered one of the four well-known tourist destinations in the Islamic world, the other three being Morocco, Egypt and Turkey.
Tourism in Islam is a balance for dual life of the present world and the hereafter.
Travelling does not only strengthen relationships between humans but also with Allah.
In other words, tourism may be one of the factors that influence happiness in this life and the hereafter simultaneously.