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Impacts of Tourism on Thailand (Eco Tourism, Cultural Tourism) - Essay Example

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Ecotourism The debates on the impacts on tourism on environment led to the concept of ecotourism. Fillion et al (1994, pp.174-194) has defined ecotourism as a form of tourism which allows the tourist to enjoy and appreciate nature. Ecotourism basically sets forth a model wherein tourism as an activity does not affect the environment of the destination…
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Impacts of Tourism on Thailand (Eco Tourism, Cultural Tourism)
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Ecotourism The debates on the impacts on tourism on environment led to the concept of ecotourism. Fillion et al (1994, pp.174-194) has defined ecotourism as a form of tourism which allows the tourist to enjoy and appreciate nature. Ecotourism basically sets forth a model wherein tourism as an activity does not affect the environment of the destination. Moreover it also includes ideological and physical participation of the tourist in the protection of the environment. There are several derivates of ecotourism including; alternative ecotourism, community led ecotourism etc. Impacts of ecotourism The concept of ecotourism has invoked a feeling of precaution in both tourists and the operator in handling the resources of the destination. This has regulated the indiscriminate exploitation of environmental resources associated with tourism industry. As the major destinations in Thailand are environmentally fragile areas, this becomes of increased relevance. A major milestone in the development of ecotourism in Thailand was in 1995, when the Deputy Governor for Planning and Development of Tourism Authority of Thailand came up with a series of reports emphasizing the need of ecotourism and thus promoting ecotourism (Nick, 1999, pp.316-332). Resultantly, a national ecotourism strategy was formulated. However, the initial recommendations of this strategy have been referred to as greening mechanism of the mass tourism which existed then. With reference to this argument a major impact of ecotourism in Thailand is that ecotourism could be used as a campaign to involve the participants of mass tourism in protection of environment. It could also be successfully used by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to improve many of the existing destinations (Nick, 1999, pp.316-332). The tourism industry of Thailand took up the idea of ecotourism very quickly. It also received institutional and policy support by the end of 1995. The Institute of ecotourism was established by the University of Srinakharinwirot at Bangkok in the same year (Nick, 1999, pp.316-332). The eight plan of the Thailand government set aside 3 billion baht exclusively for ecotourism. Apart from the monetary support, Thailand promoted ecotourism by pushing ideas like ecotourism guide certification and Annual Tourism award for environmental friendly operators (Nick, 1999, pp.316-332). It has been observed that the community has used eco tourism as a tool for natural protection which gradually led to the concept of community based ecotourism. A very good example to explain the impact of ecotourism project is the success of Koh Yao Noi ecotourism project in the Southern Thai peninsula. It has been found that this project could successfully engage the traditional knowledge of the community to ensure the conservation of the biodiversity of the area (Walter P ,2009,pp.513-532). It has been opined that the broader definition that the government gave for ecotourism resulted in the development of mass tourism and could improve the quality of destinations in terms of conservation of environment including cultural and social aspects of it. Cultural tourism Cultural tourism refers to the promotion of the cultural aspects of a destination as to attract tourists. From the tourist’s perspective, visiting a place to see, enjoy and understand the culture of an area is referred to as cultural tourism. Cultural tourism has been defined as "visits by persons from outside the host community motivated wholly or in part by interest in the historical, artistic, scientific or lifestyle/heritage offerings of a community, region, group or institution.It serves as an ideal platform to uphold the culture of a region or a country Silberberg T (1994). Thailand being a culturally rich country, the scope for cultural tourism in Thailand is immense. One major negative impact of eco tourism is that the nature is being increasingly commoditized for the sake of tourism. It is an increasing trend in Thailand, that many of the ecotourism projects are run by foreign big players and the community does not have a stake on it. The very concept ecotourism also specifically demands the involvement of local community. Interestingly some of the operational standards of eco tourism are set by the industry to which the locals does not get access to. The impacts of cultural tourism “The Amazing Thailand” is one of the most important cultural tourism specific products that Tourism Authority of Thailand came up with. The campaign was initiated in 1998. This campaign could substantially increase the tourist arrival in Thailand (Nick, 1999, pp.316-332). Cultural tourism in the context of Thailand could help the country to highlight the richness of its culture in a globalised world. One ideal example of Thailand’s cultural tourism model is that of Toong Kula Rong Ha. This village in the north east of Thailand is traditionally associated with Jasmine Rice cultivation. A development model has been successfully established in this village allowing the visitors to enjoy the culture and traditions closely associated with rice farming (Saeng-Ngam A, Chantachon S & Ritthidet P ,2009,pp.342-47). Another example of a successful model is cultural tourism is the model being organized amongst the Loa Wieng and Lao Songe ethnic groups in Central Thailand. Here home stays have been organized in the homes of these ethnic people allowing the tourists to stay amongst the community and understand their culture and tradition (Chaiyatorn S, Kaoses P & Thitphat P ,2010, pp.130-132) It has been reported that in both these cases community empowerment could be largely achieved by the implementation of cultural tourism. It has been found that the tourism initiatives in connection with culture and traditions have automatically ensured conservations of these values. Community participation is a key factor that would determine the success of cultural tourism. A major risk associated with this tourism model is that it may lead to cultural leakage. The culturally specific entities and forms will be duplicated and adapted to the comfort of the tourist will often happen. An example to this is art forms being performed in packages and capsules to meet the comfort of the tourist. Moreover, the indiscriminate exposure of the local culture to people who are not culturally sensible will cause the loss of value of these cultural symbols. References Chaiyatorn S, Kaoses P & Thitphat P (2010) The Developmental Model of Cultural Tourism-Homestay of the Lao Vieng and Lao Song, Journal of Social Sciences 6 (1): 130-132 Gurung, C. P., and M. De Coursey (1994) The Annapurna Conservation Area Project: A Pioneering Example of Sustainable Tourism? In Ecotourism: a Sustainable Option? E. Cater and G. Lowman, eds., pp. 177-194. Chichester: Wiley Nick K (1999) Sustainable Tourism or Sustainable Development? Financial Crisis, Eco Tourism, and the Amazing Thailand Campaign, Current Issues in Tourism, 2(4) pp.316-332 Saeng-Ngam A, Chantachon S & Ritthidet P (2009) The Organization of Cultural Tourism by the Community People in the Region of Toong Kula Rong Hai , Journal of Social Sciences 5(4): 342-347, 2009 Silberberg T (1994), Cultural Tourism and Business Opportunities For Museums and Heritage Sites, LORD Cultural Resources Planning and Management; Toronto Walter P (2009) Local knowledge and adult learning in environmental adult education: community based ecotourism in southern Thailand , International Journal of lifelong Education 28( 4), 513–532 Read More
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