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The Exotic Ethnic Culture of Sarawak

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1. Problemstellung

The Iban longhouses are a key attraction in Sarawak. Even West Malaysians find Sarawak´s ethnic culture exotic because there are no similar communities in Peninsular Malaysia. The Iban customs and traditions are unique because Sarawak is the only part of Malaysia and of the world that is home to this community. Total visitor arrivals into Sarawak was 394.992 in 2002 compared to 2012 it increased to 4,069,023.

From interviews with local tour operators and hoteliers, it is clearly established that the Iban longhouse tourism is the most saleable product among European and American tourists but their worry is that it is only a matter of time when the impact of tourism will be too strong which leads to a change of its tradition or even vanish it totally in the long term.

This leads to the fact that tourism is threatening the existence of longhouse communities, as they get enough income for a better and easier life. In former times most longhouses were built along the main waterways and their tributaries for reasons of logistics and security. Nowadays, however, with better infrastructure longhouse communities are shifting away from the rivers, just to mention an example of the impact of tourism.

Tourists will still get to see the “authentic” longhouse traditional lifestyle, but the question is: how long does this tradition last?

2. Fragestellung

How far does the Iban longhouse tourism in Sarawak endanger the way of living of its community in terms of cultural conservation?

3. Hypothese

For long term aspects longhouse tourism in Sarawak changes and/or endangers the way of living of its community in terms of cultural conservation.

4. kurze Erläuterung

The tourism product longhouse visit has considerable influence on its community over the years. According to many longhouse experts in no later than 50 years from now longhouse will not exist anymore. The additional income from tourism means longhouses will be able to afford new building materials. Therefore, some longhouse structures are now replaced with synthetic materials. Moreover to accommodate tourists in a longhouse, tourist agencies build new waterpipes and provide modern toilets, rubbish bins, a fire extinguisher, and a radiophone to arrange boat transport.

In addition, the tour operators’ only interest is to make as much money as possible without considering the opinion of foreign tourists on longhouse tours and their impact on longhouse life. Organizing longhouse tours to the more remote areas where the more “authentic” longhouses are to be found would result in escalation of cost and render the tour packages unsalable. “Authenticity may be “staged” due to commercial interests and financial motives. Cultural dwellers tend to look for “authenticity” and “untouched nature”, which drive tourists to new and unspoilt places. As a consequence, the places and people in the tourist destinations are later transformed into “sights and attractions”. The very meaning of culture may get lost.

5. Methode
* Desk research
* interview with experienced longstanding guides
* interview with the head manager of Diethelm Travel (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd a. 3 plausible Suchbegriffe
* Iban longhouse tourism;
* socio-economic impacts;
* tourism development in Sarawak

b. wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift oder Datenbank

* Seminararbeit Seminar Budaya Iban – Iban in Society, S. 130-150 A Socioeconomic Study of the Iban Today by Dr. Joseph Ko tee Hock * Mohd Taib Osman (1988), Cultural Iban Heritage in the context of present day Malaysia delivered at Seminar on Iban Culture, in Kapit, Sarak, June 27-30, pp 38-45

6. Unterfragen und Unter-Hypothesen

1. Who is involved in developing cultural tourism?

When developing cultural tourism or/and maintaining cultural tourism sustainability not only travel agencies are involved, but also the local authorities, planners and policy makers may need to consider what the local communities would prefer to reveal culturally about themselves, their needs and expectations and not just what the tourists might want to see and experience. 2. What will be a challenging task regarding longhouse tourism in the future? Preserving longhouse style of living is one of the biggest challenges to policy makers and tourism suppliers. Due to education, better communication and better infrastructure, there is a growing awareness among politicians that the retention of traditional culture values would be an issue not only for the indigenous community but also the society as a whole. 3. Which are the common longhouses to be visit by tourists?

The most frequented Iban longhouses are along Lemanak River, Batang Ai and Skrang, which are all situated in the Sri Aman Division. The area is about 200km from the City of Kuching – Sarawak’s capital. The longhouses are the closest to be authentic and are easily accessible by road and boat. 4. How does modernization and tourism influence the Iban culture heritage? The fear, that the onset of modernization among the longhouse communities could undermine traditional culture, has led to efforts to do something as a result of the “manufacturing of culture”. Therefore Iban communities start to reflect on their traditional way of life and its material basis. This could only be the result of the needs for tourism, which brings them to a discovery of a new meaning in their own culture and give them a new pride in the cultural heritage.

5. In what ways are the Ibans affected by the visit from the tourists, socially, economically and culturally? Visits or contacts between foreign tourists and members of the host community change the way how the Ibans view themselves. This involves their own cultures and customs, their social attitudes and responses, perceptions to the impact of small scale cultural tourism and how they generally react and respond to such changes. Tourism not only creates more jobs, directly or indirectly, but the boom of tourism is also seen in the way the longhouse community equips their homes with new electrical and electronic gadgets.

It is common to find in a tourist visited longhouse TV and radio sets, refrigerators, new and modern furniture, and in some cases even washing machines. Furthermore tourism has created a greater awareness of the importance of protecting the natural environment among the host communities. This is already demonstrated by the complaints that the longhouses along Lemanak River made against the road construction company whose activities have damaged the waterway leading to the longhouse.

7. die Übermittlung einer provisorischen Gliederung.

Table of contents 1. Introduction 2.1. Overview of tourism in Malaysia 2.2. Tourism in Sarawak 2.3. Problem Statement 2.4. Research question 2.5. Hypotheses 2. Methodology 3.6. Desk research 3.7. Interviews with experts 3.8. Bias 3. Results – Iban Longhouse Tourism 4.9. Structure of the longhouse 4.10. Development of Ngemah Longhouse tour packages 4.11. The journey to Longhouse 4.12. Host-Guest interaction 4.13.1. The tourist experience 4.13.2. The host experience 4.13.3. Eating with the host 4.13.4. Evening entertainment 4. Conclusion 5. Discussion 6.13. Culture and ethnicity 6.14. Authenticity versus staged authenticity 6.15. How the future can be shaped 6. Literature 7. In appendices 8.16. Figure 1 8.17. Figure 2 8.18. Figure …. 8.19. Interview questions|

8. die Integration der Nachhaltigkeitsperspektive in Ihrer Arbeit A longhouse that is into the tourism trade will change its way of living by the time as the cash is flowing in and the income will increase, Iban can see and feel the likely effects from the growing emphasis on materialism and modernization on traditional longhouse life. The sustainable aspects of this thesis is to find opportunities and solutions to make the best and preserve whatever we can through the promotion of tourism activities and at the same time to benefit economically from longhouse cultural tourism on a sustained basis.

9. die Übermittlung von mind. zwei Literaturquellen (Bücher) Caslake, J. (1992) Tourism, Culture and the Iban in Tourism in Borneo – The Second Biennial International Conference, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, July 1992, Borneo Research Council Proceedings Series, pp 67-90

Loose, S and Lamb, R. (1990) Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The Travellers´Guide. Huddersfield: Springfield Books

Kedit, P. & Sabang, C.L. (1992) Tourism Report: A re-study of Skrang Longhouse Tourism in Tourism in Borneo – The Second Biennial International Conference, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, 1992, Borneo Research Council Proceedings Series, pp 45-58

Borneo 2000 – Language, Management and Tourism, Proceedings of the Sixth biennial Borneo Research Conference, Kuching, Sarawak, July 10-14, 2000

10. mindestens drei seriöse Internet Quellen
* http://www.mot.sarawak.gov.my/modules/web/page.php?id=47&menu_id=0&sub_id=176 On this website a list of visitor arrivals into Sarawak from 1992 – 2012 can be found, which helps me to understand the increasing importance of Sarawak to the world tourism.

* http://www.diethelmtravel.com/
This is the company’s homepage, where I do my internship. All the offered tours are described in detail including the Iban longhouse tour.

* http://ecomalaysia.org/
It’s a website with different articles regarding to eco topics, conservation and sustainable projects in Malaysia. Also the latest news covering eco issues in Malaysia can be found. This homepage makes people more conscious about the negative impacts of tourism (development) and also those subjects which come along with modernization.

* www.tourism.gov.my
General facts and data of Malaysia as well as current news can be found on this website.

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