PENANG, 4th October 2023 – This year’s Seberang Perai International Conference on Ecotourism and Conservation Efforts (SPICEC) was held in the scenic environs of the Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. The Seberang Perai City Council, who is Universiti Teknologi MARA’s MoU partner, organized the conference with the theme “Ecotourism Ensures Environmental Balance and Sustainability: The Power and Aspirations of Rivers.” In order to promote ideas and insights in the areas of ecotourism and environmental conservation, SPICEC 2023 provided a forum for industry experts, governmental institutions, and non-governmental groups. Carrying on the tradition of the inaugural SPICEC event in 2016 with the topic “Mainstreaming Nature Conservation Through Eco-Tourism,” the event attracted over 200 participants from both local and foreign backgrounds.
Five undergraduate students from the Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, UiTM Pulau Pinang Branch, were privileged to be among the delegates attending SPICEC 2023. These students, who are from the Bachelor of Hotel Management program, were Muhammad Izanee Danial Mohd Rizalpahlavy, Khairunnajwa Edleena Khairol Edwan, Muhammad Fariz Azahar, Khairunnisa Sha’ari, and Siti Sarah Nasirah Othman. They were led by Dr. Anderson Ngelambong, Head of the faculty’s bachelor degree program. They got the opportunity to interact with experts in the ecotourism and conservation domains, which expanded their knowledge of these important topics. Through the conference, they were able to connect with other conference participants who have a similar interest in environmental sustainability. They were able to delve deeper into the complexities of ecotourism and conservation initiatives through their participation in fruitful conversations and presentations during the conference. Prof. Dr. Hashim Fadzil Ariffin, Head of Study Center, Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, and Assoc. Prof. Ts. Dr. Basharudin Abdul Hadi, Deputy Rector of Student Affairs Division, UiTM Pulau Pinang branch, were also present.
Prominent figures such as YBhg. Dato’ Seri Paduka Maimunah Mohd Sharif from UN Habitat, Dr. Taej Mundkur from Wetlands International, and Prof. TPr Dr. Amran Hamzah of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia were the exceptional keynote speakers. Among the plenary speakers who added even more value to the conference were Mr. Julian Thomas Hodson-Walker from Walrus Design in Kuala Lumpur, Prof. Dr. Noel Scott from the Sunshine Coast University in Australia, and Prof. Dr. Long Pham Hong from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi. Underscoring the post-COVID-19 sustainability of wildlife tourism, Prof. Dr. Noel Scott gave a perceptive talk on the growing trend of wildlife tourism in the Asia-Pacific region. His talk emphasized the fundamental rules for ethical wildlife viewing in their natural environments. Prof. Dr. Long Pham Hong discussed “Forest Welfare Services” and how they relate to the changing nature of ecotourism development in protected areas. He provided further details on how these services, which are based on the use of forest resources, are intended to improve human health and wellbeing. Mr. Julian Thomas Hodson-Walker raised important concerns about how humans cohabit with these essential natural elements by examining the complex interaction between rivers and human activity.
The students gave their special thanks to the top management of UiTM Pulau Pinang Branch for their ongoing support and encouragement, and they thanked the Seberang Perai City Council for inviting them to participate in SPICEC 2023. These upcoming leaders of the hospitality sector saw the event as a fantastic chance to learn important lessons about the vital subjects of ecotourism and environmental conservation, and they are eager to use what they learned in their future jobs. Usaha, Taqwa, Mulia.