The Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic on Community Well-being in Bako National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the ecotourism industry in Bako National Park. It is a challenge to the community livelihood that depends on this tourism industry where they are severely impacted due to the drastic decline of tourists because of movement control order by the authorities. In this study, we investigate the well-being aspects of local community which affected by the COVID-19 pandemic challenge so that their sense of belonging as crucial stakeholders of Bako National Park remain intact. This study attempted to elucidate the key features for community well-being through economics dimension that is the main aspects of social sustainability towards biodiversity conservation efforts in the area. This exploration was conducted through a qualitative approach with interview to 7 key informants including local community consisting of a fishing community, park rangers, park security, boat operators and park receptionist. The deductive thematic analysis was facilitated to explain the relationship between COVID-19 pandemic challenges to local tourism and their well-being through dimension of economics. Community well- being is an element that needs to be emphasized by relevant stakeholders so that biodiversity conservation and management efforts can still be carried out holistically with a bottom-up approach.

Author(s)

Mohamad Syahrul Nizam Ibrahim, Mohd Ibrani Shahrimin Adam Assim, Shazali Johari, Syarifah Kamariah Wan Mohammad & Suziana Hassan

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the ecotourism industry in Bako National Park. It is a challenge to the community livelihood that depends on this tourism industry where they are severely impacted due to the drastic decline of tourists because of movement control order by the authorities. In this study, we investigate the well-being aspects of local community which affected by the COVID-19 pandemic challenge so that their sense of belonging as crucial stakeholders of Bako National Park remain intact. This study attempted to elucidate the key features for community well-being through economics dimension that is the main aspects of social sustainability towards biodiversity conservation efforts in the area. This exploration was conducted through a qualitative approach with interview to 7 key informants including local community consisting of a fishing community, park rangers, park security, boat operators and park receptionist. The deductive thematic analysis was facilitated to explain the relationship between COVID-19 pandemic challenges to local tourism and their well-being through dimension of economics. Community well- being is an element that needs to be emphasized by relevant stakeholders so that biodiversity conservation and management efforts can still be carried out holistically with a bottom-up approach.