Location: Miri, Sarawak
Highlight from the story: We need to purposefully design our travel in line with responsible tourism.
Between 4-5 April 2023, I had the opportunity to visit the Curtin Malaysia Miri campus and engage with staff and students on a range of topics such as business event impacts and legacies, social media qualitative research, and potential topics for a special issue on food, culture and creative economies. However, being my first time in Miri, I also put on my researcher ‘hat’ to explore Miri from the perspective of responsible tourism. I endeavoured to get about the city area on foot, getting to and from shops and cafes instead on relying on other forms of transport e.g. taxis or rideshare. Miri is different to other destinations in Malaysia in being a main hub for petroleum, and yet possesses its old-world charm to attract tourists from other parts of the country, as well as border visitors from Brunei. Nonetheless, as part of the state of Sarawak, Miri is also an important destination to subscribe to, and champion responsible tourism initiatives, which include sustainable resourcing and executing of key events such as the Borneo Jazz festival.
However, I believe that responsible tourism can also be undertaken from a bottom-up perspective. Being intentional, and purposefully charting one’s itinerary to be a responsible tourist can start from simple steps. As such, in the early morning of the 5th of April, I woke up to a beautiful day and changed into my runners before heading off to my run along the Miri waterfront. Additionally, I engaged in the practice of ‘plogging’, a Swedish practice of picking up rubbish while jogging. In this way, while I managed to get my daily exercise fix, I too could contribute to a clean and green environment that is likewise conducive to other visitors to the waterfront. While what I picked up seemed somewhat insignificant (e.g. a bubble tea cup, some wrappers and receipts), I was encouraged to leave rubbish-free streets along my journey.
I think this is one step that can be taken by local authorities to steward responsible tourist behaviour in the city. Plogging routes can be identified, and tourists encouraged to be involved in such initiatives, and post these outcomes on social media platforms. Plogging can then become the new tourism ‘trend’, and derive benefits for locals, governments and tourism stakeholders.
Business event impacts and legacies: https://www.linkedin.com/events/7046337257963749376/comments/
Border visitors from Brunei: https://borneobulletin.com.bn/increase-in-brunei-tourists-to-sarawak/
Responsible tourism initiatives: https://enewsletter.sarawaktourism.com/the-natural-solution-responsible-tourism/