Local community involvement in cultural heritage management
: a case study of Melaka Heritage Trail, Malaysia

  • Mohd Ismail

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The sustainability of cultural heritage management of the resources is strongly related to support from local community via participation. It is evident that active community involvement can improve local residents’ quality of life based on better environment, social and economic conditions. However, there is little research into the question of whether the involvement of local community in heritage management derives from a genuine interest and desires to protect and conserve their local heritage assets. In the case of Malaysia, a truly local community collaborative approach is often limited due to the ways in which the community in question is conceptualised and involved in the process. In other words, local community involvement is extremely rare because they have been neglected especially in the decision making process. This has created a negative relationship between local community and government authorities in resource conservation.

Therefore, it is pivotal to investigate the influence of the local community attachment towards heritage, in order to understand the local community involvement in heritage management. The attitudes and perceptions of three groups of respondents were examined by using the concept of heritage trail development, as an illustrative example to triangulate the relationship between local community involvement, government administrative structures and tourists’ experiences.

The results revealed that, despite the fact the local community is highly attached to the heritage assets; the level of community involvement in cultural heritage management in Malaysia is low due to operational, structures and cultural limitation to engage the local community in both management and tourism development in the Melaka World Heritage Site. This is to say that the participation approach in Malaysia is highly controlled by the centralised government structure. The research recommends that the authorities consider implementing two major improvements in order to develop and maintain a system of sustainable cultural heritage management: Firstly, to overcome the limitations of community participation in the decision making process. Secondly, to consider the community attachment towards cultural heritage elements, before developing tourist attractions in heritage settings, in terms of residents’ emotional and functional attachments.
Date of AwardSept 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorZeynep Aygen (Supervisor) & Elizabeth Tuson (Supervisor)

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