Being an island blessed with a 130-million-year-old pristine rainforest, Penang is a haven for nature enthusiasts. But beyond weekend hikers and hobby anglers there is a group of amateurs and professionals who seek out wild birds, simply for the pleasure of observing them in their natural environment. These are the Birders.
Cover Story of the Penang Monthly June 2017 Issue
Tourism contributes substantially to the national GDP of many countries in the world. Its extensive products and ancillary services generate job opportunities locally and exert a strong spillover and multiplier effect on the economy.
It is reported that the travel and tourism industry is responsible for a direct world GDP contribution of US$2,306bil (3.1% of total GDP) in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 3.8% in 2017. In South-East Asia, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP was US$119.7bil (4.7% of total GDP) and is expected to rise by 5.7% per annum from 2017 to 2027 - translating to US$222.8bil in 2027.
Between 2000 and 2014, Malaysia’s travel and tourism exports expanded by 290%, outpacing the total export of goods and services. Its direct, indirect and induced GDP impact generated as much as 14.9% of the nation’s GDP in 2014 - twice of that created by the education sector, which reached 7.3%.
And just last year, the direct contribution to Malaysia’s GDP was US$14bil and is expected to rise by 4.2% in 2017. In the next decade, the projected direct contribution to Malaysia’s GDP by the travel and tourism industry would be as much as US$24.2bil in 2027 (5.4% of total GDP).
While travel and tourism infrastructure and services continue to expand, holiday trends are shifting as well, especially among the young. A survey by Chase Marriott Rewards found that 84% of millennials (18-34 years old) are interested in taking volunteer vacations compared to a mere 18% of respondents from generation X (35-49 years old), and 17% of baby boomers (50-67 years old). Given that millennials are growing into their peak earning and spending years, their purchasing power should reshape the economy; thus, tourism should soon veer decidedly towards trips that can be classed under ecotourism.
Most of us would prefer growing old in comfortable and familiar surroundings, but this may be a luxury that more and more of us will not be able to afford. Malaysia’s population is ageing, costs are increasing, and the nation is still unprepared for future challenges.
We live in unprecedented times: more people are living longer and have healthier lives than ever before. The Department of Statistics Malaysia has revealed that the life expectancy of Malaysians has been rising – from 72.2 years in 2000 to 74.7 years in 2016.
This holds true for the rest of the world. The United Nations reported a 48% increase of people aged 60 years and above between 2000 (607 million) and 2015 (901 million). By 2030, the figure should hit 1.4 billion people by 2030. In other words, within 13 years, the number of people aged 60 years and above in the world will equal China’s entire population in 2013.
There is no doubt about it. Cities are growing with astonishing intensity, and as we move towards an increasingly urban world, a plethora of tools, indexes and frameworks is being developed for cities to compare and benchmark themselves with each other in terms of quality of life and liveability. This can be hugely useful for cities wishing to identify their weaknesses and learn best practices from their peers.
Ultimately though, these tools should encourage citizens to reflect on urbanity itself and its impact on the wellbeing of people and society.
There is a range of approaches to the creation of city-level indexes for wellbeing. The United Nations Human Development Index aims to objectively measure the basic dimensions of human development: education, health and income. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) created a City Development Index for the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in 1996. The Asian Development Bank also then created a congestion index and a connectivity index. However, given the great diversity of cities, it is extremely challenging to construct a uniform index that is sensitive to local conditions and priorities.
The role and identity of waterfronts today vary depending on the community they serve. Traditionally, waterfronts are defined as the part of a town fronting or abutting a body of water.
Playing a significant role in defining a city’s economic, social and cultural facets, waterfronts inevitably mould the character of the settlement it represents. The waterfront in George Town has a backdrop that consists of key elements of the town itself – the Esplanade, Pengkalan Weld, Swettenham Pier and the Clan Jetties.