Long-haul tourists help on dolphin and turtle programs
Long-haul markets to Malaysia are getting an appetite for volunteer tourism. Agents and operators say there is strong interest in this growing niche segment. Before, CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs were of interest only to meeting and incentive groups from European markets. But in the last couple of years there has been growing interest from the FIT segment too.
To reach this demand, pan-Asian incoming agency Diethelm Travel will work with tour operators in Germany to promote more volunteer tourism programs in Sabah and Sarawak for the FIT market this year.
Another player in Malaysia, Sarawak-based Masama JS Adventure Tours, saw 30% year-on-year growth in the number of participants for its turtle conservation program at Talang-Talang Island, with the most requests coming from FITs from the Netherlands. Conservation tours in Sarawak are in demand, especially those with the rare Irrawaddy dolphins in the Santubong area.
“The FIT tourist involved in volunteer tourism spends at least 50% more than the average tourist, as they even pay the locals a fee to be involved [in activities],” explained Alex Lee, CEO of Terengganu-based Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours.
[pictured: Leatherback Sea Turtle]