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Title: Ecotourism in theory and practice : a critical case study of northern Thailand
Author: Sitikarn, Bussaba
ISNI:       0000 0001 3416 3375
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2004
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This study aims to determine whether ecotourism as currently practices in Northern Thailand conforms to international principles of ecotourism or contributes to sustainability. To achieve the objectives of the study, the methodologies adopted for data collection were: semi-structured interviews and focus groups with local residents and other stakeholders; participant observation; and self-completion visitor surveys. The study first established criteria to assess and evaluate the situation and potential of tourism in the case study communities. Three case studies of Huai Hee in Mae Hong Son province, Umphang in Tak province and Mae Ta Man in Chiang Mai province were investigated to demonstrate the potential and explore the possible merit of ecotourism development in northern Thailand. The selected case studies offer different ownerships, perspectives and approaches of tourism management and operations. The case studies share in common the fact that tourist activities are taking place in the remote areas and operated in a natural environment. The findings revealed that tourism in Northern Thailand was determined as being unsustainable because it does not manifest the core elements of sustainability and does not meet the criteria of international principles of ecotourism. In practice, 'ecotourism' is interpreted and used differently by stakeholders. Both individual ecotourism enterprises and the overall concepts and principles of ecotourism are continually beset by large-scale interests seeking to divert or co-opt them for different purposes. For example, it is used as a means of: marketing strategy to promote ~ourism products; community development and management and conservation of natural resources; and negotiation with the government about land property rights and to mitigate the conflicts between the government and the local people. Ecotourism contributes to local income generation and distribution whilst having potentially impacts on natural resources, culture and society of the host destinations. The study also revealed a lack of educational provision, public participation and cooperation amongst stakeholders in tourism development processes. To achieve sustainability of tourism, the study suggests in addition to unity and clarity of ecotourism definition, a partnership management approach, between the local community, public sector and private tourism entrepreneurs.
Supervisor: Godfrey, Kerry B. ; Glasson, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral