Perspectives on Regional Food Tourism Development: The Case of Food Producers and Tourists in East Coast Malaysia (ECM)
Wan Mohd Zain, WMA
Date: 11 November 2019
University of Exeter
PhD in Management Studies
This study explores the development of food tourism in East Coast Malaysia (ECM), focusing on the dual aspects of food production and food consumption. The role of locally produced food is directly connected to tourism because it can enhance the tourist experience and create additional economic activity in and around the destination ...
This study explores the development of food tourism in East Coast Malaysia (ECM), focusing on the dual aspects of food production and food consumption. The role of locally produced food is directly connected to tourism because it can enhance the tourist experience and create additional economic activity in and around the destination (Boesen, Sundbo and Sundbo, 2017). This thesis focuses on the case of East Coast Malaysia (ECM), which as a tourist destination has not grasped the potential for food tourism to contribute to regional development within the local food and tourism networks. The literature linking producer and tourist inter-relationships to create tourism development is still sparse. This study adds the understanding of the broader aspect of food tourism studies focusing more on food production and consumption insights in influencing food tourism development. This integration is important to ensure local food is available to tourists and capable of creating exchange values for tourists as well as local producers. Additionally, the importance of food production and consumption linkages is an integral part of the food tourism sector, resultant from food as the main attraction that becomes an important tourist product. This thesis adopts a mixed-method approach based on a survey (N=204) of international tourists and semi-structured interviews (N=13) of food producers in the ECM states of Pahang and Terengganu. The results identified that ECM food producers need to be more engaged with tourist experiences in order to boost visitor numbers and it has a direct impact to re-shape local food production. Furthermore, the food tourism production process is an important influence on the development of ECM food tourism. The findings show that food production results in several key outcomes for economic development: product diversification and innovation, insource vs. outsource production, marketing techniques and tools, niche vs. mass market, supply chain and food network and Internationalization. Additionally, tourist food consumption (TFC) is highly influenced by the food experience factor that links tourists' country of origin, the frequency of visit, type of accommodation and estimated expenditure on food. Chi-square test based on tourist level of interest in Malaysian food, showed that 62.7% of tourists had a moderate or casual interest in local food, but they have a better knowledge of Malaysian food in contrast to other food tourist groups. Cluster analysis identifies three different types of tourists; active, dynamic and opportunist enthusiasts, based on tourists’ perception of local food, and variations of food tourists’ characteristics. Therefore, this study suggests that food tourism production-consumption integration is important to support ECM food tourism development, and co-creating an ‘added-value’ to the regional tourism industry.
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