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This article examines the relationship between official tourism promotion and the identity of a destination's people within the context of the plural society of Malaysia, where the government has been engaged in nation building since independence. Its vision of national identity is centered on the dominant Malays and Islam, while other groups such as the Chinese and Indians have been marginalized. However, content analysis of selected promotional material reveals the importance attached to the country's multiethnicity, which has acquired a value as a marketable commodity. The imperatives underpinning such decisions about formal tourism marketing are assessed and are shown to be the outcome of a combination of economic, social, and political processes. Tourism promotion is seen to serve many purposes, but its use as a vehicle of state propaganda may be undermined by commercial objectives with unexpected consequences as prevailing ideologies are challenged and vulnerable identities protected.

Keywords: Ethnicity; National Identity; Tourism promotion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Nanyang Technological University

Publication date: January 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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