Heritage Tourism in Malaysia: Fostering a Collective National Identity in an Ethnically Diverse Country

G. Butler, C. Khoo, P. Mura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


As the processes associated with globalisation swiftly erode distinct cultures and identities, it has been argued that heritage attractions have emerged as powerful communicators in developing collective national identities. Although many countries reveal histories and collective pasts that are universally representative of homogenous populations, Malaysia represents a distinctly contrasting scenario. Malaysian heritage attractions do not necessarily represent a singular population but three distinctive ethnic groups. Thus, selecting heritage attractions that appropriately represent Malaysia remains a complicated issue. Using photographs as "real-world" variables to supplement focus-group interviews, this article reveals that young Malaysians exhibit a limited understanding of religious heritage attractions and have developed identities that are highly specific to their ethnicity and own religious beliefs. However, the stories told by several respondents also show that Malaysia's ethnic- or religious-centred heritage attractions have the power to foster a simultaneous collective national identity if promoted effectively. © 2012 Asia Pacific Tourism Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-218
Number of pages20
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • heritage tourism
  • Malaysia
  • national identity
  • religion
  • cultural influence
  • tourism economics
  • tourism management
  • tourist attraction
  • tourist destination


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