Indigenous knowledge and cultural tourism among the Mah Meri people in Malaysia

Abstract

Cultural tourism is a great potential source of economic gains for local industries and indigenous people. The aboriginal people of Malaysia known as Orang Asli have used their indigenous knowledge (IK) as part of their cultural tourism. This study aims to explore the attractions of cultural tourism by the Mah Meri tribe. This qualitative study includes semi-structured interviews of ten research participants, participant observation, and document analysis. The intrinsic case study is conducted at a well-known indigenous cultural tourism site at Carey Island in Selangor. The in-depth interviews are audio-taped, transcribed, and checked for converging themes to understand the community resources of IK which contribute to cultural tourism practices. Findings showed that wood carvings, mask carvings, pandanus weavings, and cultural performance are the most important practices of the Mah Meri tribe. These practices contribute to their income and the development of indigenous cultural tourism. The observations show that the community is extremely proud of its cultural heritage and often perform their cultural practices, especially for tourists. This study also provides major implications for the improvement of cultural tourism. Tourism authorities play an important role in the development of local cultural tourism quality standard. Specifically, tourism authorities can promote local cultural tourism and preserve the IK by passing it to the younger generations.

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