Social Innovation Project (SIP) module centers on developing innovative ideas and solutions which are in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that supports a chosen community. These innovative projects can be in the form of products, concepts, or programmes with the intention to provide benefit to the community or end users. This semester 30 students from multi-disciplinary schools within Taylors embarked on a sustainable homestay project for tourism purposes among an indigenous tribal community namely, Mah Meri tribal group at Pulau Carey in Selangor.
This SIP initiative will see these students working in teams and with hands-on activities designing sustainable environmental, friendly homestays using the resources available. Through this sustainable homestay projects, the students have identified opportunities for the Mah Meri community to partake in Community based Tourism which will supplement their household income. Through this community-based project, students create value and manage risks through systematic research, constructive thinking and designing skills, and they propose enterprising projects as solutions for a real-world deserving community.
The selected SDGs for this collaborative project are Innovative Infrastructure (SDG 9) and Sustainable Communities (SDG 11). As part of this innovative sustainable homestay tourism project for the Mah Meri orang asli community, a talk with two prominent speakers were organized on 10th September 2021 at 2pm. The objective of these talks was to expose the students to the idea of homestay tourism to encapsulate the economic and cultural values which will be a great advantage for the indigenous community.
The first talk was presented by Mr. Keng Bee Cheng, Head of Integrity in Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, about homestay tourism in Malaysia. He shared Ministry’s homestay projects and how the Ministry contributed financial aid to chosen communities to cultivate tourism among rural areas. He also shared the aim of these community development is to engage participants and homeowners to entrepreneurship capacity building and also empower them to sustain the environment and economic improvement.
The second talk was by Dr. Puvaneswaran, Senior Lecturer, Taylors University who did his PhD within this same Mah Meri Community. He shared insights about the community, their livelihood and their involvement in tourism with wood craft and traditional dances. In addition to that, Dr. Joaquim Dias Soeiro, Head of School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, Associate Professor Dr. Seyyed Mostafa, Head of CRiT, Ms. Leela Panniker, Director of NGO, Trees also shared their expertise and inputs in doing this sustainable tourism project among the Mah Meri projects.
It was agreed that sustainable tourisms three pillars of economic, social and environment aspects should be imbibed into this community project which will cultivate community’s tourism enhancement. The seniors from the five Mah Meri villages looked forward to such tourism projects to encourage their youth to stay in the village to continue their culture and indigenous practices.