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Enclaves and ethnic ties: The local impacts of Singaporean cross-border tourism in Malaysia and Indonesia

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Cross-border tourism is often proposed by governments as an incentive for economic growth, but critics have suggested that its impacts are, in fact, overplayed. This paper presents research in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle (IMS-GT). It examines the broad economic impacts of Singaporean cross-border tourism on local host communities in two locations: Kukup, a traditional Malaysian fishing village in Johor, southern Peninsular Malaysia, and Bintan in Riau Islands Province in western Indonesia. The study found that cross-border tourism generated income, employment and some local economic linkages. In Kukup clear economic benefits with increased income and employment were unevenly distributed between ethnic groups. The Bintan enclave development had some linkages to the island economy but was reliant on immigrant labour. Cross-border ethnic ties, particularly Chinese, also played an important role in the growth of tourism in the IMS-GT. The paper shows that cross-border tourism can be a useful addition to more conventional forms of international tourism within national tourism planning and could lead to significant economic benefits for local communities.
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Keywords: Indonesia; Malaysia; Singapore; borders; enclaves; impacts

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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