Boosting the Tourism Side of Miri, Sarawak: Idea Proposal For a Voluntary Tour Guide Scheme
An Introduction to Miri, Sarawak
Miri (美里) is a coastal city located in the northeastern side of Sarawak, situated near Brunei, on the island of Borneo. The city is the second largest in Sarawak with a population of approximately 200,000 and is the main gateway to various tourist attractions including Mulu National Park, Lambir Hills National Park, Loagan Bunut National Park and Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park (Wikipedia, 2016).
Miri was founded in 1910 with a history of oil drilling activity conducted by the Royal Dutch Shell. The oil discovery has led to rapid development in Miri into a city today. During the Second World War (WWII), the oil fields were destroyed by the Brooke Government to sabotage the Japanese operation in Southeast Asia. The subsequent Japanese Occupation in Miri caused the town to become a target of Allied air raids which destroyed most of the oil refineries in Miri. Miri became the 10th city in Malaysia to be granted official city status, the first non-state capital city to be bestowed such status.
Lambir Hills National Park
Loagan Bunut National Park
Niah National Park | Miri
Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park
Location of Miri, Sarawak
Some Perspective of Where Certain Attractions Are
Proposal of a Voluntary Tour Guide Scheme
There are a lot of amazing attractions in and outside of Miri City itself (i.e. National Parks or Canada Hills). To get to these attractions, tourists (either international or domestic) can easily contact any tour guide online via a Google search, to arrange a trip to National Parks, a tour into the Borneo Rainforest and more. The business in this area of tourism is highly saturated as there are tons of tour guide companies available.
In this Hub, I will like to propose a Local Voluntary Tour Guide scheme for Miri which could benefit both the tourist and the locals. This scheme requires collaboration between a few locals in Miri to set up a plan of the places of interest in Miri and plotting the specific locations on a map. Then, an online social page could be set up on social website (i.e. Facebook) for the scheme. The idea behind the scheme is, instead of having a one-off trip to ONE particular tourist attraction (i.e. Borneo Rainforest), tourists could, in addition, contact the Scheme committee to discuss a trip around Miri, to taste the authentic local flavours and stalls. By combining the Wish of the Tourist (WoT) and the knowledge of a local volunteer, a plan could be formed for the journey in Miri for either:
- Food, Drinks, High-Tea
- Park or Outdoor Recreational Activities
- Tour around the City
The idea is inspired by the Hanoi Tours, involving basically local students to guide tourists around Vietnam. Their service is entirely free of charge with the purpose of learning English along the experience. Basing on their mechanism of function, the same could be applied in this scheme. I believe the proposed scheme have 3 benefits:
- It provides a new platform for English learner to practice English in terms of speaking.
- It increases locals appreciation of the attractions in Miri
- Tourist can have a true taste of the authentic local flavours in Miri
In this proposed scheme, I believe that fee is necessary but should be kept to a minimum. A little alteration in this scheme is that the volunteer acts both as a tour guide and a driver!
Requirement for Volunteers
There will be basic requirements expected for locals to join the voluntary scheme. This is to ensure the safety of both the tourists and the volunteer. In addition, all volunteers should be interviewed carefully by relevant committee to access any behavioural issue. A behavioural or attitude training might or might not be necessary depending on each volunteer to ensure that volunteers understand their role and responsibility towards the tourist and the scheme itself. The volunteer will act as an 'ambassador' for the local area and a respectable attitude is expected.
Basic requirements include:
- Basic English language proficiency
- Knowledge of Miri
- Own a transport vehicle (i.e. car) and an appropriate driving licence
In-Depth of Working Mechanism
To ensure that the proposed scheme is functional, we will require volunteers to be available in Miri when required. The proposed scheme should progress as following:
- Group discussion of the various location of interest in Miri and map out the places based on categories such as food, drinks, high-tea, movies or park.
- A discussion on the fees and outline, in detail, specific requirement for each volunteers
- Recruitment of volunteers through online posting on social websites (i.e. Facebook) and personal face-to-face interview to access the overall impression of volunteers.
- We will set up an online social website for international or domestic tourists to proceed with contacts with tourists.
- If contacted, there will be a discussion between the tourist and the committee, focusing on the Wish of the Tourists (WoT) and the suitability of the plan proposed.
- Plan of journey reach an agreement, proceed to find suitable volunteer for the job.
Idea For Scheme 1.0
This capsule is dedicated to idea improvement and progress of the scheme.
The scheme includes the journey plan and transportation around Miri. The scheme is not responsible to pick up the tourist from Miri airport but service could be provided with a fee. Throughout the journey plan, the tourist will travel with the volunteer local in the volunteer's car. At the end of the journey (each day), the volunteer will make a trip to the petrol station to refuel (2) his/her vehicle.
- Accommodation should be pre-booked by the tourist. The scheme does not include accommodation-booking
- The fee for the refuel (at the end of the day) is paid by the tourist, and therefore, settling the transportation fee
- At the end of the night (each day), the fee is settled between the tourist and the volunteer (transportation fee + tour service).
The service fee (per day) should not be high, ranging approximately from MYR 30 - MYR 50. This is subject to change based on the volunteer but the maximum limit will be determined (MYR 50)
*Assuming MYR 4.50/hr with 8 hours a day = MYR 36 is the benchmark reference
Flexibility of the journey plan
The planned journey may be shorter or longer depending on the content of the plan. The duration is flexible depending on the tourist and the volunteer (if an agreement is made between both individuals).
The price for the journey will be fixed (even if the planned journey failed due to unpredictable consequence i.e. accident).
Depending on the volunteer, suggestion could be made along the journey to add or remove certain places of attraction (i.e. beach, movie). Alteration to the journey plan should be achieved through mutual agreement between the tourist and the volunteer.
If Keen to Collaborate