Dr Mark Hampton, Director of the Centre for Tourism in Islands and Coastal Areas (CENTICA) at the University of Kent, is to conduct a two day workshop on the social and economic impacts of international scuba diving tourism in Malaysia during a visit to Kuala Lumpur in April.
Dr Hampton’s workshops on 26 and 27 April will also explore the physical impacts of dive tourism on Malaysia’s celebrated reefs and ask whether there is a need for a national dive tourism policy. The workshops are the culmination of a two-year research project that started in the summer of 2008. The research team, which reunited Dr Hampton with Professor Amran Hamzah from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, conducted fieldwork in three main sites: Sipadan Island in Sabah, East Malaysia, Redang Island in West Malaysia and the Perhentian Islands.
The project was funded by the British Council as part of the Prime Minster’s Initiative Programme, which aims to strengthen Britain’s economic and educational ties with certain key countries.
Workshops participants include: Professor Amran Hamzah, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; Dr Ghazali Musa, an associate professor at the University of Malaya with research interests in scuba diving tourism, health tourism, backpacker tourism; Bilge Daldeniz, Research Associate at CENTICA; and representatives of the Malaysia Scuba Diving Association and environmental conservation organisations.
Dr Hampton, who also runs the University of Kent’s Tourism Management degree programme, said: ‘This expert workshop will bring together the key players in Malaysian dive tourism. It gives us the unprecedented opportunity to get to grips with the challenges of this dynamic sector and the chance to develop work towards a national dive tourism strategy.’
Dr Hampton’s previous work with Professor Amran Hamzah included a £50,000 study funded by the Malaysian government to assess the impact of backpacker tourism in the Asia Pacific region. In 2007, the pair teamed up for a pilot study of cross-border tourism between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Dr Hampton is Visiting Professor of Tourism at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.