Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

GIS Base Tourism Decision Support System for Langkawi Island, Kedah, Malaysia

Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

GIS Base Tourism Decision Support System for Langkawi Island, Kedah, Malaysia

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Tourism can be defined as a set of activities (for leisure, business, religious, health and personal purposes) engaged in by persons temporarily away (maximum of one year) from their usual environment, excluding the pursuit of remuneration from within the place visited or long-term change of residence (Smith, 2004). As a field, tourism is currently among the world's largest industries and fastest growing economic sectors. Tourism activities employ 3% of the global labor force and if indirect jobs are considered, this share increases to 8% (UNEP, 2013). By 2000, the international tourist arrivals worldwide was approximately 697 million (WTO, 2002) and has increased to 1.035 billion in 2012 (UNWTO, 2013). Tourism is a multi-faceted sector (Figure 1) and within the tourism sector, coastal tourism is by far the most significant in terms of tourist flows and generation of income (Salehudin et al., 2013).

Interchangeably known as geospatial information system, GIS is any system being used to store and process data referenced to the Earth's surface (Molenaar, 1998; Nair & Katiyar, 2011), which growth and expansion are further influenced by the Internet development starting in 1990s. GIS facilitates the tourism development by providing insights on location, areas' conditions, trends and changes, routing to through the site and resources usage patterns; in addition to balancing an area sustainability and tourism (Butler 1993). Therefore, GIS has been widely used in tourism settings; from information kiosks and hiking maps to web-based maps (Duran, et al., 2004). As it enables the information transaction to a wide network at the expense of low budget, the Internet is gaining in popularity and in importance. The internet based GIS is more mobile, powerful, flexible and better able in sharing and communicating using geographical knowledge (Colas, 2002). The Internet based GIS allows the users to access GIS services without having to install the GIS software on their computer and more importantly, GIS implementation in tourism settings is still limited. This suggests that there is so much that can be achieved. Against this background, this paper aims to discuss the importance of TDSS and the development of the Internet based GIS for Langkawi tourism.

2. TOURISM INDUSTRY IN MALAYSIA

The tourism industry enjoys a long tradition. Tourism is a complex host-tourist interaction (Ismail & Turner 2008) that can be broadly encapsulated into mass and alternative tourism, which can be further categorized into international and national based. Regardless the categories, the high dependency level on the environment as well as the rapid development rate imply that the tourism industry operation shall be executed within the sustainable development context (Chan 2009). The tourism industry successfulness is a three-fold process that involve developing, managing and marketing the products, facilities and activities; sufficiently and effectively (Fridgen 1991).

According to Medlik et al., (1991), the tourism industry stimulates the developing countries' economic growth by means of revenue distribution. Malaysia particularly, has recognized tourism as one of the economic development pillars since 1990 (Mohamed et al., 2006). Figure 2 showed the total tourist arrivals and receipts from 2004 to 2012 for tourism industry in Malaysia.

In the context of Malaysia's island tourism, it is learned that the tourists' visitation propensity is more toward Langkawi (in Kedah), Perhentian (in Terengganu), Pangkor (in Perak) and Tioman (in Pahang) (Mohamed et al., 2006). Langkawi in particular, the tourist visitation is stimulated by its picturesque 99 small islands and the complete archipelago that is 450 million years worth in value.

Additionally, the establishment of the Langkawi Geopark as one of the World Heritage Sites (gazetted by UNESCO in 2007) has contributed to increases in tourists' arrival (Othman & Mohd Rosli 2011). …

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