Local Community Participation In Community-Based Tourism Of Jakun Tribe, Sg. Peroh, Johor


Indigenous communities in most countries have settled in their traditional lands since before the existence of other communities in one country. Their traditional culture is deeply embedded in their traditional lands and is closely linked to their customs and belief system. However, the process of globalization in the form of development has slowly eroded the traditional culture of the indigenous community and exposed it to the threat of cultural extinction. Therefore, tourism has been highlighted as a critical instrument for sustainable development in rural indigenous communities. The growing interest in indigenous culture as a visitor attraction has benefited the growth of indigenous communities. Hence, community participation in tourism is an important factor since they are the nucleus for decision-making and support in the development. The focus of this study will be on the local people of Jakun Tribe Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh's preparedness and desire to engage in the establishment of Community-Based Tourism (CBT). The study employed a mix-method which involved the scoring of community readiness in obtaining the stages of community awareness and readiness. It would obtain a complete knowledge of the level of awareness, preparedness, and inclination of the society to engage in tourism expansion by utilizing a qualitative approach of in-depth interviews with the local community and chosen organizations. The results showed that the local community is open to more opportunities in tourism development and ready to participate. Therefore, this study is beneficial to the tourism stakeholders in outlining strategies for tourism development in the indigenous village.

Keywords: Community-Based Tourism, Community Participation, Indigenous Community


Tourist behaviour has started to shift in the past few decades as tourists explore a better, unestablished strategy for vacation spots, where they can immerse themselves in native culture and participate actively in their journeys (Lo & Janta, 2020). As a result, their motivation for travelling is not only to discover new places but also to learn about culture, ethics, old indigenous ruins, and native history, all of which allow them to transcend above conventional journeys and have real and significant adventures predicated on their own perspectives. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (2010), highlighted in the Report on Tourism and Culture Synergies on the changing nature of culture and tourism, proved the significance of culture as a tourism asset in this research. Culture has an incalculable intrinsic worth for host societies; therefore, it is among the most valuable tourism assets. Tourism may also play a significant role in the endorsement and preservation of intangible and tangible cultural assets, as well as the growth of crafts, arts, and other creative pursuits. Tourism locations incur most of their appeal to culture, which has the potential to turn traditional tourism into creative tourism, resulting in more genuine and sincere encounters (UNWTO, 2010).

In indigenous societies, community-based (or driven) tourism has the possibility to overcome many of the financial, social, historical, and environmental issues that these people confront (Colton & Whitney-Squire, 2010; Finlayson & Altman, 2003; Graci, 2010; Hinch & Butler, 2007; McGinley, 2003; Zeppel, 2006). According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2018), the notion of community-based tourism has been widely adopted across the globe to encourage community engagement in tourism growth. Indigenous peoples have a vast range of living legacies, which include behaviours, representations, gestures, expertise, abilities, and a distinct style of life (UNESCO, 2018). Indigenous peoples all over the world embrace a set of values that stem from a recognition that their existence is inextricably linked to the natural environment. Indigenous culture's distinctiveness provides a plethora of options for local communities. Thus, numerous communities, especially indigenous peoples, have begun to promote tourism as a means of supporting cultural rebirth, intercultural consciousness, and economic growth (UNESCO, 2018). This expansion provides occupations and career possibilities for people of all ability levels in the community. The tourism sector, as per Goodwin (2007), offers new job possibilities and assists indigenous peoples in becoming financially self-sufficient. It expands possibilities by including indigenous peoples in the management and regulation of socio-economic operations, as well as enabling them to engage with economists and teach them to achieve financial advantages.

As government dependency is decreased, advantages emerge from increasing local economic prosperity and community ability, allowing community growth and empowerment as well as a greater feeling of accountability. Protection of cultural and natural heritage, enhanced education, coaching and capacity building in the tourism business, higher employment, economic diversification, better infrastructure, sustaining the environment, sharing of indigenous culture, mitigation of extant societal issues, and allowing the conventional practice of residing off the property in a sustainable manner are just a few of the unique advantages. According to Roddin and Sidi (2013), indigenous society engagement in tourism is a phenomenon including four linked aspects, or four Hs, that entail cultural encounters for tourists. These elements are geography (habitat), ethnographic tradition (heritage), acculturation (history), and marketable products (handicraft). Presenting culture to tourists ignites indigenous peoples' dignity in their culture, which might contribute to the 'sense of belonging' to their culture. Unfortunately, in Malaysia, indigenous communities have had little engagement in tourism-related activities (Simpong et al., 2020). According to Edwards et al. (2000), readiness is the most important element in deciding if a programme can be executed successfully with community engagement. To get this cooperation, the programme provider has to recognize how prepared the community is to be a programme beneficiary. Therefore, this research aims to look into the community participation in Community-Based Tourism of Jakun Tribe, Sg. Peroh Johor.

Problem Statement

United Nations (UN) (2015), through United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), outlined the philosophy of 'no one left behind.' Indigenous peoples, as well as several minority groups, have campaigned for acknowledgment that the following phases in progress must ensure nobody is left behind. This demonstrates that the indigenous population has become a global priority in building a sustainable future (UN, 2015). In remote indigenous regions, tourism has been highlighted as a critical mechanism for sustainable development (Campón-Cerro, 2017; Canavan, 2016; Muresan et al., 2016). Seeing as indigenous regions have a rich ethnic culture as well as ecological significance and sensitivity, effective tourism progression must comply with local understandings in an attempt to establish a reciprocal association based on feasibility, trust, and respect in hopes of gaining local support and acceptance (Canavan, 2016; Yu, 2018). Several case studies highlighted that tourism is an important tool in socio-cultural preservation (Kunasekaran et al., 2017). Similar studies by various writers (George & George, 2004; McKercher & Du Cros, 2002) argue that the community's cultural legacy may benefit them if it is prepared and maintained effectively, with tourism as a vital marker to conserve the cultural heritage.

However, the cultural heritage is persistently changing, evolving, and being lifted by each new generation, especially for intangible cultural heritage that can only be expressed through progression, dissemination, skills, and abilities of the community (Lenzerini, 2011). Studies by UNESCO (2018) have shown that globalization and culture homogenization in this postmodern era have threatened intangible cultural heritage's expressions and manifestations. As a consequence, local community participation is a sustainable strategy for archiving long-term solutions for coming generations. Community participation in tourism is an important factor since they are the nucleus for decision-making and support in the development of their place (Chan et al., 2021). Considering the role played by the community in society and may play in the socio-economic development of a country, the role of a rural community in tourism development is of great importance. Internationally, the concept of Community-Based Tourism (CBT) has been used worldwide as a vehicle to engage and empower the indigenous. It can be seen through several case studies of indigenous communities such as Maori in New Zealand, Aymara in Bolivia, and Achuar in Ecuador. These indigenous people thrive in the tourism industry because of the territory's natural history, which comprises indigenous cultures whose territories have been adjusted for this practice in the sense of responsibility, participation, and appreciation.

In Malaysia, Community-Based Tourism (CBT) has always been associated with the Homestay programme among local Malay people (Aziz & Selamat, 2016; Halim, 2014). However, the experience of the indigenous community from Mah Meri Tribe has proved that communities from the minority also can play a significant role in providing supplementary income to the household through their expression of their indigenous cultural heritage. Even though it was a collaborative and driven effort from other individuals such as NGOs, their strong willingness to participate in the tourism business has proved that the tourism development in their area has succeeded in empowering them. Meanwhile, the research indicates that even if local communities may perform a variety of positions in tourism growth (Johari et al., 2015; Woo et al., 2015), there is minimal focus on the community's readiness and willingness to participate in tourism advancement. From this scenario, there is less research that looks at the community participation in the tourism development of other indigenous tribes in Malaysia. Therefore, this research investigates the willingness and readiness of the Jakun Tribe in Sg. Peroh, Johor to be involved in Community-Based Tourism (CBT), identifying their resource readiness and uncovering the challenges of CBT development in the Jakun Village.

Research Questions

What is the level of awareness of the indigenous community about the issue of cultural preservation and the tourism industry?

To what extent is the readiness of resources to pursue in Community-Based Tourism?

What are the obstacles in establishing Jakun Tribe Community-Based Tourism?

Purpose of the Study

The goal of this study is to determine whether the local community of one indigenous tribe in Peninsular Malaysia, the Jakun Tribe, is ready and willing to participate in tourism development, especially in Community-Based Tourism (CBT). The effort to develop CBT in this village is a way to safeguard and preserve the local culture through local community participation in tourism. In addition, this research investigates the resources available in the Jakun village as well as uncovers the challenges of the Jakun community for venturing into tourism.

Research Methods

Study Area

The research area in this study is Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Peroh located at Kahang, Kluang Johor. The Jakun people, also known as Orang Hulu or "people of the upstream," are a Malaysian ethnic group classified as Orang Asli (indigenous people). The Jakun people are part of the third group. In the Proto-Malay division, they are the biggest group of Orang Asli. Conventional farming and exploitation of the river's water supply, including fishing and prawn capturing, provide a living for this population. A minority of villages have lately been interested in the ecotourism industry. Tourism in Kampung Orang Asli Sg.Peroh was initiated since at the end of 2018. This community has been widely portrayed in the local tourism industry through the way of life and traditional practices of Jakun's community. Spectacular nature, culture, and traditions such as weaving, Sewang dance, and traditional instruments are among the assets of the community. Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh has been chosen as 20 top destinations must-visit places in Johor in conjunction with Visit Johor 2020.

Data Collection

Three different data collecting approaches were used to acquire primary data. Community readiness evaluation, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and monitoring were the methods employed. Judging by past community involvement research, semi-structured interviews were conducted (Kunjuraman & Hussin, 2017; Xu, 2019). Tok Batin, a spokesperson of government authorities and a local nature guide, was one of the 20 persons who took part in the interviews. The respondents were chosen since they were thought to be qualified to give extensive, thorough, and trustworthy information on the tourism industry. With the assistance of Tok Batin, who has extensive knowledge of the region's tourism growth, the people were discovered. Collecting and processing both qualitative and quantitative data allows for constructive comparison of feedback, and a society readiness evaluation encompassing local residents in the survey area was also conducted to complement and authenticate the relevant data acquired from the in-depth semi-structured interviews.

Readiness is a notion that may be assessed both individually and collectively. This metric is used to assess how equipped a person or community is to solve a problem (Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research, 2014). The community readiness model, a method for measuring population readiness, has been extensively implemented in a number of studies, including those in education, health, media, and social politics (Boquiren, 2018; Slater et al., 2005; Thurman et al., 2003; Waryanto & Insani, 2013). The community readiness model, according Nugraha and Mahida (2013), is intended to assess the community's responsiveness to construct programme or policy initiatives. The evaluation analyses a community based on the many categories outlined for the programme or concern (Edwards et al., 2000). The major elements that impact the community's readiness to respond to a problem in this study are five (5) dimensions of readiness. The Community Readiness Model's five dimensions, which are defined and assessed, are quite thorough. i) Community knowledge of the issue; ii) community knowledge of efforts; iii) community climate; iv) leadership; and v) resources are the dimensions (Khatun et al., 2016). They are great ways to figure out what your community lacks and how to build plans to address those demands.

From the smallest to the greatest degree of community preparation, the Community Readiness Model comprises nine stages. Each dimension is allocated a readiness level ranging from 1 to 9, which includes levels such as (1) No Awareness, (2) Denial, (3) Vague Awareness, (4) Pre-planning, (5) Preparation, (6) Initiation, (7) Stabilization, (8) Confirmation/Expansion, and (9) Professionalization. The community readiness scores are then utilized to design strategies. Here, the dimensions with the weakest readiness levels are generally resolved first (Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research, 2014). This level will also reflect how equipped society is to implement a programme or policy. Therefore, using the Community Readiness Assessment (CRM), the local people were asked to give on their level of agreement and disagreement following the statements of each dimension.

Data Analysis

The data were analyzed in two phases using a descriptive quantitative approach centered on the Tri-Ethnic for Prevention Research (2014). The first phase involves by determining the value/score of every dimension/variable, followed by determining the state of community readiness. Next, content analysis was performed to examine qualitative data. Originally, the researchers evaluated the data as well as the data collection for each operation. The data was meticulously collected before being sorted into categories, which were then categorized and evaluated depending on the theories and concepts needed to reach conclusions.


Awareness Level of the Local Community

The readiness score of each aspect mentioned in the Community Readiness Assessment (CRM) is used to determine the total degree of awareness of the local community. These include (1) Knowledge about the issue, (2) Knowledge about the effort, (3) Leadership, (4) Resources, and (5) Community Climate will be summed up.

Table 1 - Overall Score of Local Community Awareness and Readiness
See Full Size >

The table 1 above shows that the overall score of local community awareness and readiness to participate in Community-Based Tourism is 5.60, which is in stage 5 (Preparation). In this stage, the leaders plan the effort to combat the issue of Jakun Tribe cultural extinction earnestly through their openness towards tourism initiatives. Decisions are being made about the details of the effort, and resources such as people, space, time, and money are actively sought and committed to planning the effort. The local community at the preparation stage offers modest support towards the effort and initiative. Full local community participation can be obtained if the tourism development proves that the effort would change their livelihood as well as the village. At this level of awareness and readiness, the local community already has knowledge about the issues and efforts. With the average score of 4-6 given by the respondents, it shows that the local community has already known about the issue of their tribe's cultural extinction and showing their support towards the solution of the issue.

The subsequent remarks represent the views of numerous people of the community and attract attention to a problem that occurred in their village:

"Actually, we have a lot of cultural heritage that we inherited from our past ancestors. However, as the time went by and the younger generation started to enroll in the government school, received a formal education, and married with the outsider, the identity of Jakun slowly vanished." (Informant 7)

"I am aware that our culture is rarely practiced now, which I see as a threat for our tribe, but I do not know what to do." (Informant 4)

Recognizing tourism as a tool and catalyst to bringing back the value of the cultural heritage, the Jakun Tribe opened their mind towards accepting tourism development in the area. With the other benefits that could be reaped from tourism, the local community is prepared to be more involved in the efforts. The local community is ready to open their village, manifest their intangible cultural heritage, revitalize all the past traditional instruments, and many more. Hence, the community leaders should play a vital role in ensuring that the plan's preparation can be converted into progressive and active actions.

While tourism has the potential to restore local economies and promote local identity in certain regions, it also has the ability to disrupt economic structures, local traditions, and social connections (Gunawijaya & Pratiwi, 2018). If local leaders can convince and invite the local community to join in the improvement, this endeavour may be effective. The leaders should leverage support from the local community towards this effort to improve the modest support to the full support and participation of the local community.

Resources for Community-Based Tourism of Jakun Tribe

The resources readiness in the context of this research comprises the human resources (1) Leadership and (2) Community attitude. Resources to fit in Community- Based Tourism is (1) Internal resources and (2) External Resources. For the human resources, the local community informed that their local leaders are eager to combat the issue and very open towards the tourism development in their village. The initiative towards the issues started from the local tour guide, who expressed his worries towards Jakun Tribe culture that is slowly disappearing as time goes by. Tok Batin and the head of the village were also very concerned about the issue that made them open towards the initiative. The local leaders' wisdom to plan for tourism development in Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh has made the local community interested in the effort. Hence, the local community is ready to show their support towards the development.

The local community's attitude towards the initiative is influenced by the feeling towards their indigenous cultural identity and socio-economic status. The disappearance of Jakun traditions and customs made them worried. Indigenous people's culture is the core of who the individuals are, who they reside to, where they originated from, and how they interact with each other. As a result, they feel a sense of belonging, prompting them to value and revive their cultural heritage. The Jakun Tribe presumed that the intervention would profit the culture and local economy by promoting Community-Based Tourism, which endorsed the element in which the local community chose to share a collective responsibility for overall aspects of their remain, including accommodations, internal trips, local cuisine, and cultural activities. In addition, the local community's socio-economic status also contributes to their readiness. Having the majority of the men working in the village with unstable incomes and women being housewives, the local community believed that the effort of bringing tourism in their village would give them job opportunities and bring supplementary income to the family. Therefore, it can be said here, the human resources in the Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh is ready to embark and open to more progressive tourism development in the area. Local authorities must take aggressive steps to encourage the local community to engage actively in tourism growth.

In the context of internal and external resources of Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh, the recognition given by Tourism Johor as Top 20 destination to visit in Johor 2020 proved the support of the initiative to the Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh. The strategic location of Sg. Peroh in Kahang, which is near the Endau National Park, could be leveraged by the tourism agencies to package based on destination clusters. Apart from that, according to the MPKK Sg. Peroh, since tourism was first initiated and is currently ongoing, there is an improvement with the infrastructure, such as road condition to Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh. It is agreed that more improvement should be made towards the village if tourism in Sg. Peroh expands and is well-known. Hence, with the support of external resources, it is effective if the related agencies and NGOs drive the local community to introduce the concept of CBT and facilitate the arrivals of visitors and foreigners. Workshop and training towards capacity building are crucial for this CBT initiative.

The internal resources for Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh consists of its land, the Jakun Tribe community, Jakun cultural heritage, community skills and etc. Land and Orang Asli are connected. Their customs and religious systems typically imply a great reverence for nature, as well as a profound feeling of location and belonging. Hence the place itself could mean and tell a lot of stories. Clearly, the land is one of the important resources for tourism development. Proper planning towards tourism initiative needs to be imposed so that with the arrival of the tourist and tourism, this would not violate the tribe land and pay respect towards their ancestors. In terms of products and activities, tangible resources such as the Jakun Tribe's old traditional house still remain intact. In addition, the local community still kept their ancestor's traditional instruments. Some of the instruments are created back using woods, bamboo, and rattan. This has proved that the resources are capable enough to promote Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh as a tourism destination where tourists can learn and experience the different cultures in Malaysia. However, the products and activities offered to the tourists could be varied in offering the product that remained. Still, the local community should revitalize all the traditional customs and rituals practiced by the tribe long ago. This effort could be an added value for the community as well as tourism to emphasize the uniqueness of the tribe. Therefore, leaders and related agencies should conduct a workshop for sharing ideas and stewarding the community to develop their products.

Weaving and wood carving are very synonymous with Orang Asli. The Jakun tribe also has the skills to weave, and women in the village still practice weaving. The quality of the product is a huge concern for them. According to the women weaver in the village, they never received any training for product improvement or development. The related agencies should conduct training and workshops for the community to develop their skills and have the knowledge to develop their product so that it could be commercialized not only to the tourists coming to their village but could be marketed outside as well. The eagerness of the local community to receive the training showed the readiness of the community and resources to venture to the new level of improvement. The commercialization of the product would not only benefit the only weaver. Still, it could also become one of the catalysts to attract the local community, especially the younger generation, to be involved in weaving. It would generate income and provide job opportunities for them. This effort will indirectly become one of the ways that the skills of weaving could sustain for the future generation.

In conclusion, there are many resources and opportunities that local communities, leaders, and related agencies could benefit from. However, the local community needs strong encouragement and assistance to empower themselves through the resources available.

Challenges of Community-Based Tourism Development

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (2016) described CBT as a community-owned tourism activity conducted and handled or organized at the community level, contributing to community well-being by assisting sustainable livelihoods and preserving treasured socio-cultural traditions and cultural natural heritage assets. However, the amount of success varies based on a variety of criteria identified as CBT development difficulties, which must be recognized before embarking on the creation of a tourism business (Gebeyaw, 2011). Among the challenges highlighted during the interviews are the community still lacks of experience, knowledge and skills as well as empowerment to venture in tourism activities and development. Most of the communities did not receive formal education from school; hence the locals would feel reluctant to interact with the guests. Furthermore, the community had never received any training and workshop in preparing them for tourism development. According to Sebele (2010), the absence of specified skills required in the tourism sector impedes the advancement of CBT projects. Society necessitates attaining managerial, entrepreneurial, and marketing skills to penetrate into the sector and obtain a greater proportion of the tourism industry's rewards. Another challenge highlighted is the infrastructural challenge. the location of Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh is located in a remote area, the accessibility to the village is still poor. Despite the presence of tourism resources providing potential for community tourism advancement, such prospects are limited by resource constraints such as water supply and land availability (Silva & McDill, 2004 as cited in Zielinski et al., 2020). These few factors have become barriers, and constraints for the local community make them have a huge gap with the concept of Community-Based Tourism.


From the findings and the summary of the research, it can be concluded that the local community, Jakun Tribe of Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh is ready to be involved in any kind of tourism development. They believed the benefits could be shared in the community. The tourism development in the village could become a 'tool' to preserve and safeguard their cultural heritage that is slowly being demolished day by day. Apart from that, the improvement in accessibility, employment as well as generating income could prove to them tourism brings no harm but good if good planning is implemented. This indicates that the tourism development in Kampung Orang Asli Sg. Peroh positively contributed towards poverty alleviation in the village and gained more support towards the effort for tourism development in the village. Acknowledging the attitudes towards tourism, in order for the village to encourage the community to participate in tourism, they need strong support and financial investment for future development. It is necessary to develop a proper integrated plan to deliver the benefits of tourism development to the local community. It provides better opportunities for local community participation in the workforce, entrepreneurship, and leadership.


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31 October 2022

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Napatah, N. N., & Azlan, S. C. (2022). Local Community Participation In Community-Based Tourism Of Jakun Tribe, Sg. Peroh, Johor. In H. H. Kamaruddin, T. D. N. M. Kamaruddin, T. D. N. S. Yaacob, M. A. M. Kamal, & K. F. Ne'matullah (Eds.), Reimagining Resilient Sustainability: An Integrated Effort in Research, Practices & Education, vol 3. European Proceedings of Multidisciplinary Sciences (pp. 763-774). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epms.2022.10.71