Linking scientific knowledge with tourism promotion – lessons from Langkawi

Monday - 26/11/2018 23:36
It is commonly perceived that scientfic knowledge is for scientists and researchers since it is too technical and difficult for normal people to understand. This is mainly because scientific books, magazines and reports are usually written in a scientific language. No wonder!

It is true that most of visitors go to a tourist attraction because they are looking for relaxing moments with a beautiful landscape, good food, interesting events, and friendly people. No regular tourist would visit some place because of its scientific value, like geological heritage or biodiversity. True!

However, the inititative of geopark has set a goal to integrate geoscience into sustainable local development, mainly through tourism promotion. Each geopark has her own way to put this concept in reality but all agree on the approach of linking scientific knowledge into tourism sector in a simplified scientific language. This enriches tourism products, brings sciences closer to the public and at the same time makes the vacations more interesting and meaningful.

In the late of October 2018, we visited Langkawi island. Located in the far north-western corner of peninsular Malaysia, Langkawi has long been known as a premium tourist destination. The best attractions in Langkawi make of the natural landscapes, expansive parks, and iconic structures that no first-time visitor should skip on their travel itinerary. Actually, Langkawi has more than those.

When we visited Kilim mangrove forest and noticed abundant mudskippers in the forest, Dr. Norhayati Ahmad, an amphibian expert, provided interesting stories of mudskippers, including their biological lifecycle, their adaptive capacity, their evolution and transformation to survival from their enemies. All were told in a simple language.

Mudskippers are quite popular in mangrove forests and brackish water areas throughout Vietnam but not so many people know those interesting stories of this amphibious fish.

Being asked how a scientist can speak such a non-scientific language, Dr. Norhayati shared that many scientists are now writing non-fiction books and that’s encouraging because they can bring science closer to the public. The integration of scientific knowledge in a simple way into tourism has inspired visitors as in addition to normal sight-seeing, and they can take home interesting scientific lessons.

The Ly Son aspiring geopark in Quang Ngai is in the process of doing inventory. Scientists and experts are collecting scientific facts and consolidating evidence on geology, geomorphology, biodiversity, geoculture, etc. before submitting the application dossier to UNESCO in a couple of years. However, interpreting those scientific facts into simple and interesting stories for integrating into tourism sector should not be far beyond the horizon.

The province authority is supposed to shake hands with other stakeholders and partners, e.g. national and local universities or research institutes, to build a holistic development approach for Ly Son Geopark, including the link of sciences and tourism for the diversification of tourism products.

Author: Dzung Nguyen

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