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Rural Tourism - the Impact on Rural Communities II. Thailand
Nuchnard Rattanasuwongchai
Department of Career Sciences
Kasetsart University
Bangkok, Thailand, 1998-10-01

Abstract

This paper discusses rural tourism in Thailand, and both its negative and positive impacts on rural communities. It discusses government and private programs in Thailand to develop tourism in rural areas, and gives several case studies of successful projects. The importance of sound planning procedures is emphasized, including a realistic assessment of carrying capacity, development of infrastructure, zoning, the involvement of local people, and education of both local people and tourists.

Abstracts in Other Languages: 中文(1124), 日本語(1368), 한국어(1214)

Introduction

Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries, and has been identified as a means of generating national income in less industrialized economies. Like other countries, Thailand has promoted tourism as a major source of national income. However, tourism has had some destructive effects, not only at a national but also at a local level. Having suffered from uncontrolled tourism, Thailand is now searching for less destructive approaches which are now part of the nation's sustainable development. One of the most intriguing sustainable tourism themes is rural tourism, which has been lately become very popular in less industrialized countries. However, its future has been controversially discussed, with questions as to whether it is "rhetoric or reality" (Cater 1991).

In discussing the status of rural tourism in Thailand, this Bulletin focuses on four main topics:

  • Patterns of tourism organized in rural areas;
  • Their economic, environmental and sociocultural impact;
  • Movements in rural tourism in Thailand: background innovations, implementation of projects, and constraints;
  • Analysis of potential of rural tourism in Thailand: marketing opportunities and trends.

A case study is also discussed, the Kanchanaburi Ecotourism Cooperative, as an example of sustainable options for rural tourism.

Definition of Rural Tourism

Rural tourism takes many forms, so it is difficult to give an exact definition. In this Bulletin, rural tourism is regarded as part of both "rural development" and "sustainable development".

Webster (1975) defines rural development as a process which leads to a rise in the capacity of rural people to control their environment, resulting from more extensive use of the benefits which ensure such control. Rural development is affected by many factors, including economic development, humanitarian attitudes, environment, social values and knowledge (Poostchi 1986). Villiers (1997) perceives sustainable development as the way to raise living standards, to allow people to reach their human potential, to enjoy lives of dignity, and to ensure the welfare of present and future generations.

Linked with the above definitions is the concept of rural tourism as another kind of sustainable tourism that exploits resources in rural regions, causes little or no harmful impact, and generates increasing benefits to rural areas in terms of rural productivity, employment, improved distribution of wealth, conservation of the rural environment and culture, local people's involvement, and a suitable way of adapting traditional beliefs and values to modern times.

Tourism in Rural Areas

Fortunately, the rural areas of Thailand have great diversity of cultures, traditions and natural resources, which makes them very attractive tourist destinations. Five tourism themes have been selected as benefiting both tourists and local people.

  • Natural tourism, which is mainly for recreation with little or no ecological impact.
  • Cultural tourism, which is concerned with the culture, history, and archeology of local people;
  • Ecotourism, which is a responsible type of tourism which preserves natural resources as well as maintaining the well-being and social values of the local population (Anderson 1997);
  • Village-based tourism, in which tourists share in village life, and rural villages gain economic and other benefits from tourist activities (Sombunthum 1998);
  • Agrotourism, in which tourists watch or take part in traditional agricultural practices, without disturbing the ecosystem or the productivity of host areas.

However positive the themes of rural tourism, without adequate planning and monitoring even this type of tourism may turn out to be harmful in sensitive rural regions.

Negative Impact of Rural Tourism

Economic Impact

Although tourism has brought Thailand benefits such as foreign exchange, employment, higher government revenues and the transformation of agriculture into a modern service industry, it has been a two-edged sword which has damaged many indigenous societies. The economic benefits have brought prosperity mainly to urban communities and entreprenuers. The rate of economic return to rural communities has been low.

  • Facilities such as resorts, hotels and tour companies belong mainly to investors from cities; who take most of the profits.
  • Food, drink and other daily necessities used by tourists are normally imported from outside, not produced locally.
  • Revenues in the forms of taxes and fees do not go to rural communities directly, but return to the central government.
  • Local labor is employed only at a low level. Employment opportunities for local people are thus very limited.
  • Over the past ten years, rural areas have not benefited much from the multiplier effect on the development of local handicrafts, or agriculture. This undesirable situation is caused by the weak linkage between tourism and local production.

Environmental Impact

In 1997, 7.2 million overseas tourists visited Thailand. Their average length of stay was fairly long, at 8.3 days (TAT 1997). Such a huge number of visitors may overexploit natural resources and have a heavy impact on the environment. In addition, tourism may require infrastructure, transportation and other facilities which can cause environmental distortion.

Some tourism activities such as trekking and camping have caused environmental pollution from unhygienic disposal of human waste, discharge of sewerage effluent into water sources, and littering. Without strict regulations on appropriate land use, high-rise buildings such as tourist hotels, and the overwhelming number of tourists, have resulted in congestion and spoiled much of the local scenery.

Sociocultural Impact

Since the income from tourism is much higher than what rural people can earn from agriculture, tourism has been accepted willingly in many rural areas in spite of its negative effects.

Poorly planned tourism can mean that villages are invaded by foreign visitors with different values, disrupting rural culture. A decline in participation in rural traditional and cultural practices follows. Traditional houses are replaced by modern buildings, as the local culture is eroded. The agriculture which was the basis of traditional life is replaced by, and becomes secondary to, tourism. Coconut cultivation in Koh Samui, a popular tourist island in the south of Thailand, and traditional farming practices in Ayutthaya, a well-known historic capital, have both decreased in recent years.

The higher standards of living in urban tourist destinations have caused emigration from nearby rural neighbors, resulting in changes in the demographic structure and possible culture shock. Furthermore, employment and education can have a negative social impact. The younger generation may gain prestige that rivals that of their elders as they gain experience, jobs and money from tourism.

It is widely recognized that such negative impacts on rural communities have become stronger, and that rural tourism must be modified to give rural people its benefits.

Status of Rural Tourism in Thailand

Though Thailand's six national development plans have all emphasized tourism, they have mostly been concerned with increasing tourist arrivals, marketing, and physical development in terms of infrastructure, access and facilities. Resource conservation, rural development and local involvement were not sufficiently emphasized. Over the past ten years, the concept of "sustainable development" has become a global concern. Since the "Earth Summit Meeting" in Rio de Janeiro, effective guidelines have been clearly identified. Three aspects of sustainable tourism development have been proposed: the need to preserve the environment and natural resources; the need for education, including proper perception and experiences for both tourists and local people, and the need to generate a democratic movement which helps people at all levels to participate in tourism development.

Innovation of Rural Tourism in Thailand

Government Efforts

Under the Seventh (1992-1996) and Eighth (1997-2001) Development Plans of Thailand, tourism is seen as an essential component to reach an important objective; that is; "to develop the free, stable and balanced growth of the national economy, to promote opportunities, to develop human potential in the development process, and to reap fair returns from such development" (TAT 1997).

In accordance with these development plans, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) formulated new policies which stress conservation of tourism resources, human resource management, and an equilibrium between tourism and the natural and social landscape (TAT 1996). Rural tourism is not specifically mentioned, but policies include:

  • The expansion of tourism sites to local areas, to create new income sources which is distributed among people in all regions;
  • The conservation and renovation of the cultural heritage, natural resources and the environment;
  • Public participation in activities related to tourism development. (TAT 1996)

It is agreed that the existence or uniqueness of tourist destinations should be preserved, and the conservation of culture, arts, tradition and nature should be promoted at a national, regional and local level. At the same time, the economic base of rural or local communities should be carefully adapted so that local people can share in new economic opportunities. Tourism development should have little impact upon the environment and the society and culture of local communities. The education system should be improved, so that local people can reach a correct perception of tourism. (TAT 1997 and Leksakundilok 1997).

Such policies have been applied to a number of projects organized by both the government and the private sector. The three following government projects are good examples and should be regarded as prototypes of sustainable tourism development.

BanPrasat Archeological site. This is a village development project focusing on occupation training, handicraft promotion, and improvement of both the landscape and the basic infrastructure, to increase the villagers' quality of life by creating a healthy environment.

Umphang District Project. This is an ecotourism pilot project aimed at preserving wildlife, forestry and natural resouces, by following proper principles of ecotourism.

Village-Based Tourism Project. This initiative was carried out by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in cooperation with the Greater Mekong Subregion Countries (GMS). It carries out studies and surveys of tourism patterns that benefit villagers while maintaining their cultural values.

The Role of the Private Sector in Rural Tourism Development

Now that the private sector is being pressured by the government to run their businesses on the basis of sustainability, some responsible entrepreneurs have recently become aware of proper development. For instance, the "Regent Resort Chiang Mai" and the "Regent Cha-am", both famous resort hotels in Thailand, have landscaped their own rice fields which are planted by their farmer staff, and harvested for the benefit of the local community. Their efforts prove that themes of rural tourism such as agrotourism, cultural tourism, etc. can be synchronized with commercial tourism. Furthermore, tour operators are increasingly organizing rural tourism programs, and giving their clients the opportunity to travel in rural villages, while following strict rules of behavior. Nevertheless, no strong effective movement was found among the private sector until the first Ecotourism Cooperative of Thailand was founded, to distribute tourism opportunities and wealth to local people, to develop ecotourism service standards, and to encourage local people to conserve their natural resources. The Kanchanaburi Ecotourism Cooperative is discussed in this paper, as an example of potential tourism development in rural areas.

Case Study: Kanchanaburi Ecotourism Cooperative

Kanchanaburi province in central Thailand has great natural beauty and historical and archeological importance, as well as a strong cultural identity. It is the seventh most popular province among tourists, with more than 700,000 overseas tourists each year. Unfortunately, tourism development in this province has been uncontrolled, eventually causing an influx of investment which brought little economic benefit to local people.

Kanchanaburi Ecotourism Cooperative (KECC) was founded by the local people of Lintin sub-district, under the leadership of Mr. Pongsan Pitamahaket (assistant divisional director, planning division of TAT), and with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and the Royal Forest Department (RFD). KECC can be described as the first successful cooperation for tourist development between local people, government organizations, and outside experts.

Projects

Projects are based on the concept that income from tourism will only be sustainable if the ecological and cultural environment is preserved. Input comes from local communities assisted by experts. Ten projects are planned, consisting of:

  • Environmental trails;
  • Handicraft and souvenir production and training centers;
  • A museum on local folklore, folk culture, history and the natural environment;
  • A herbal botanical garden and traditional Thai herbal medicine training center;
  • An elephant village, elephant hospital and elephant conservation center;
  • A central market for local agricultural products;
  • A KECC store and supermarket;
  • A KECC savings bank; and
  • A KECC credit fund for small loans for small-scale enterprises centered around ecotourism activities.

Operations

To promote the local involvement and increase its funding, KECC has given the local people the opportunity to buy KECC shares, borrow funds from commercial banks and monetary organization, utilize KECC members' savings, and use donations from the private sector and donor organizations.

Marketing Plans

Local members are encouraged to market KECC ecotourism activities through registered ecotourism travel agents. In addition, to ensure an even distribution of profits, KECC has set up commission standards for its members. For example, villagers who work within the handicraft and souvenir sector will receive 65-80% of earnings from all sales, while KECC receives the rest as a commission or management fee. Members will also gain annual dividends for any cooperative share they buy.

Future Prospects

KECC is such a profitable prototype that eight more Ecotourism Cooperatives are to be established in Thailand, under the patronage of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Furthermore, the Royal Forest Department is also officially permitting KECC to operate Ecotourism Cooperatives in the six national parks in Kanchanaburi province. Given its success and experience, KECC is now in a good position to assist other rural communities in tourism development.

The cooperative system can be an effective approach to developing tourism in rural areas. Local people can monitor and control the negative impacts of tourism on their own society, if they have an equal stake and authority in management and development.

Constraints in Rural Tourism

Although the global movement for sustainability has been favorable to the new era of sustainable Thai tourism, rural tourism development has encountered many problems.

Inadequate Authority and Disharmony in Development

The authority of existing legislative organizations is still restricted as far as tourism development is concerned. The legislation which gives governing bodies their authority does not clearly state their power to manage and develop rural regions. Other government organizations are thus unwilling to cooperate unless a direct order or financial aid is given from the top administrators of the nation. Furthermore, organizations often encounter bureaucratic red tape, and their decisions are influenced by political interference. Another major constraint is the conflict between government organizations, each of which tries to protect its own dignity and authority.

Legislation Problems

To limit the impact of tourism on rural communities, it is recommended that tour operators limit the number of tourists in each group or in each visit period, and supply well-trained staff to accompany the group. However, this adds to the cost, and operators will be unwilling to meet strict requirements unless there are official regulations which are strictly enforced. Some irresponsible business operators who want to minimize their costs and undercut the prices of their competitors bring in very large groups of tourists, who may spoil the ecology and culture of the villages.

Lack of Manpower

Though there are various training courses organized by universities, the number of personnel with specific skills such as the interpretation of nature, local culture, history and archeology, is still limited. In particular, local authorities do not have staff experienced in tourism management and development. To some extent, the manpower problem is caused by the present economic crisis, as well as unrealistic government policies for the development of human resources.

Insufficient Financial Support

Although a large amount of funding is needed to develop rural tourism, only a limited budget is given because funding is determined by the size of the local population. As a result, essential developments such as human resource management, enforcement of regulations, building of physical structures, and land use management are not being implemented efficiently.

Lack of Local Involvement

Though the concept of local participation is strongly emphasized in rural tourism, in practice local people are seldom involved in decision making, planning and implementing policies. Many rural communities have no knowledge of tourism, and are misled by outside investors who hope to take most of the economic benefits from rural areas. Consequently, local people become confused or divided about what kind of tourism they want to establish in their own area.

Opportunities and Trends

Opportunities

The movement towards sustainability has affected the attitude of many tourists towards tourism, especially those from North America, Japan and Europe. As tourists become more highly educated, more aware of environmental quality and more experienced, their behavior is changing. Their expectations become higher; they demand authentic and meaningful experiences; and, irrespective of price, will make a return visit only if their expectations are fulfilled.

Rural tourism in Thailand has great strength, since it supplies not only natural elements such as forests and mountains, but also the indigenous local characteristics such as traditions, customs and folklore. Direct experience with local people can be a unique selling point to attract tourists.

Rural tourism appeals, not only to tourists, but also to rural people in developed countries and, to a lesser extent, in developing ones. For the past 10 to 15 years, farmers have found a way to increase their economic security and reduce the risk of marginal farming by developing tourism recreation and enterprises on their own farms. In England and Wales, it is estimated that about 15,000 farms are run for both farming and tourism. New enterprises cover farmhouse accommodation (farmstay), self-catering units, camping grounds, and activities such as horse-riding, handicraft displays and herb gardens.

Farmers in Thailand have lately begun to do the same. Various tourism activities have been tried, for example handicraft displays in Ban Prasat-Nakhon Ratchasima Province, ecotours in Umphang-Tak Province, farming tours in Chiangmai province, and farmstays and an ecolodge in Kanchanaburi province. These rural tourism activities have great potential, but they also have weaknesses (see Table 1(1166)).

Those working to develop tourism in Thailand should be objective in analyzing strengths and weaknesses so as to clarify the market potential and search for the suitable types of tourism development.

Trends

WTO forecasts that international tourist arrivals in the Asia-Pacific will increase above the world average, and that this region will overtake the Americas to become the second most visited in the world by 2010. Despite the economic crisis of 1997, the 7.2 million international tourists who visited Thailand in 1997 brought with them revenue of US$5,993 million. It is noticeable that the number of tourists traveling to rural destinations has constantly increased. Around 67.39% of Thai tourists (about 12.13 million tourists) and 30% of foreign tourists (about 2.085 million) are involved in ecotourism in remote rural areas (Leksakundilok 1997). The length of stay of international tourists is also longer than usual (8.3 days). Informal records of the Ben Adisti company, one of Thailand's leading rural tourism and ecotourism companies, show that its Western guests stay an average of 15.9 days. Of these, 98.4% are families and couples, while 50% are former guests making a repeat visit to Thailand (Anderson 1997). These statistical reports show that rural tourism has a good future.

Recommendations

The crucial point of tourism development in rural communities is not " "whether" but "how" to develop. Without clearly defined guidelines, development cannot be accomp-lished efficiently.

Managerial approaches to tourism development in rural communities may be divided into five main areas: environmental management, the involvement of rural communities and sectors concerned, legislation, sustainable marketing, and design objectives.

Environmental Management

Carrying Capacity

Before tourism development takes place in rural areas, we must be sure that the type and level of development is in keeping with the capacity of rural communities to absorb visitors. The number of tourists should be limited in order to prevent any harmful impact. The appropriate carrying capacity can probably be identified on the basis of the capacity of the most sensitive variable factors and the minimum social cost. Getz (1983) notes that there are three variations in capacity, linked to costs and benefits. These are:

  • Whether a limiting factor can be overcome in pursuing such goals as economic growth;
  • To what extent social and ecological problems should be tolerated in the pursuit of the goals;
  • Whether an optimum balance can be found between the costs and the benefits.

Though Wall (1983) points out that there are inconsistencies between types of tourism, as well as between levels of tourist activity, measures of the temporal dispersion of business (Ryan 1991) may be of use in rural destinations. These measures include:

  • The maximum number of visitors who can be tolerated without undue stress at any one time. Two - thirds of the maximum number of recorded visits is recommended by WTO (1983);
  • The level of crowding can be assessed by taking the number of arrivals over a given period, and dividing this by the total number of arrivals over a longer time period;
  • The carrying capacity is probably based on the calculation of space required by a tourist;
  • The number of tourists that can be catered for may also be calculated according to the capacity of available utilities such as the water and electricity supply, divided by the consumption per tourist per day.
  • Another measure is the host - visitor ratio, the popular function of which is Defert's tourist function:
  • number of bed spaces in a region
  • Df = x 100
  • population of the region

With reference to ecology, economy and socioculture of rural communities, the number of tourists should also depend on the particular characteristics of each rural area. After carrying capacity is assessed, the number of visitors must be controlled to ensure that it remains below this number.

Development of Physical Structures

Although inadequate infrastructure is one of the major limitations in rural tourism, sustainability must be a major concern in the development of physical structures. The appropriate type and volume of infrastructure and utilities should be carefully designed, planned, and monitored.

In some rural tourist destinations, a great deal of infrastructure is provided to improve access and convenience. While local people may benefit from this, they may lose their unique way of life. Therefore, physical structures should be developed under the three following conditions:

Firstly, infrastructure, and necessary facilities should be constructed according to a design and in a quantity that meets the needs of tourists as well as of local people, and at the same time causes no negative ecological or socio-economic impact on rural communities. In this respect, such physical development projects as the water supply, sewerage treatment system, solid waste disposal management, and tourism activities such as camping, trekking and diving, all of which may contribute to rural degradation, must be all monitored according to clear environmental and sociocultural standards. Secondly, physical development from both the public and private sector should be based on the needs, goals, values and attitudes of the rural host communities. Rural assets such as the architectural heritage and historic values must be protected. New buildings should be constructed in a design consistent with the local architectural style. In addition, local businesses providing accommodation, food etc. should be given priority in terms of marketing and management, to ensure that the benefits come to local people rather than outside investors. Physical development should be carried out in accordance with zoning plans, so as to achieve a balance between conservation, tourism and public use.

Zoning

Careful attention must be paid to zoning in determining how land will be used. The four different zones used in Japan's Mt. Fuji Park (Inskeep 1995) could usefully be applied to tourist detinations in rural areas of Thailand. These divide the park into:

  • Protected core areas for wilderness preservation;
  • Integrated conservation zones in which individual homes for farmers or other local residents may be permitted on the basis of both ecological conservation and local residents' use.
  • General use zones, where second homes and recreational development are allowed compatible with site planning, but where clear cutting of trees is forbidden;
  • Ordinary zones or intensive use areas, in which the local government is responsible for land use regulations and monitoring, except that developers must present proposals to an environmental agency before carrying out development.

The local government, private entrepreneurs, local people and tourists must all have a correct perception on zone management. Tourism must not invade land used for wilderness or farming. Where tourism takes place on farms, it must be looked upon as an secondary source of income, not as a replacement for agriculture (Poostchi 1997).

Involvement and Cooperation

Local Involvement

Tourism is developed most efficiently when rural communities participate, including local institutes, volunteer groups, tourism associations, the Chamber of Commerce, municipal councils and, particularly, groups of local people.

During planning, implementing and monitoring, the involvement of each rural community is greatly needed so that projects can be realized according to local preferences. If local people receive sufficient incentives, financial aid and technical support, they can develop their rural resources according to their own traditional practices. Education and training in management and finance for small businesses is a crucial factor. Groups of experts should be available to provide advisory services to rural communities engaged in tourism development. In addition, there should be continuous research on how to maximize the economic benefits from tourism in a sustainable way.

Armed with the knowledge and experts' assistance, local people can then decide what kind of tourism they want: urbanisation with congested environment, or a rural atmosphere where they can enjoy peaceful, pollution-free natural resources.

Cooperation between Different Parties

As tourism is an integrated activity, the multilateral meetings which include government organizations, local people and the private sector, especially business investors, should be regularly organized to establish a network of tourism, training institutes and organizations in rural areas. In addition, the role of responsible authorities in both the private and public sectors has to be clearly defined. Since the bureaucratic structure of government cannot easily be adjusted, the private sector, which is more flexible in a changing economic situation, plays an essential role in providing entrepreneurial skills, management and marketing. Strong cooperation between the public and private sectors may minimize the "Black Hole" in which government tourism authorities tend to operate, and can create more competitive rural tourism.

Regulations

Regulations on land use, building density, carrying capacity, and appropriate business patterns should be strictly imposed. However, if regulations are too strict, they may discourage investment, to the detriment of the local economy. The scope of regulations and the means to enforce them are very important in creating a successful rural tourism industry. Regulations should be discussed and agreed on by guides, village leaders, teachers and investors. The following are examples of regulations on tourist behavior which can apply to all sectors:

  • Do not give money, candies or gifts to village children;
  • Buy food or drinks only from local shops, to discourage unlicensed street stalls or vendors from outside;
  • Take photos with due regard to local beliefs, and only when it is permitted by villagers;
  • Buy handicrafts directly from local people, so they get the profit rather than urban traders and middlemen.
  • Take part only in those tourism activities which are supervised by a local guide or liaison officer.

Both horizontal and vertical integration among the organizations concerned is needed to set up regulations that are positive to all parties.

Sustainable Marketing

To ensure that rural tourism will be sustainable, private enterprise should be active in "green marketing" and in creating a type of tourism which conforms with both tourists' expectations and industry standards (Wight 1994). Though there has been no consistent approach to marketing rural tourism, the following policies advocated by the English Tourist Board (1991) may be beneficial.

  • Be honest, and substantiate the company's sociocultural and environmental claims;
  • Identify the sociocultural and environmental benefits of the company's products;
  • Present details of the environment surrounding the operation;
  • Use recycled paper for all printed materials;
  • Consider developing sociocultural and environmental boards at a local level; and
  • Match suitable tourism products with each market segment (see Table 2(1156)).

Objectives and Plans

Tourism should be considered as one component in development, so that tourism projects are harmoniously linked with the development of the whole community. Furthermore, tourism development in rural areas should focus on the environmental and sociocultural impact at all levels of the planning process. Efficient government institutes with the authority to coordinate planning, implement policies and enforce legislation are essential.

Conclusion

Rural tourism is at present favorably perceived as potentially sustainable. Nevertheless, it may bring negative impacts. There are many pitfalls along the avenue of tourism development. Both short-term and long-term planning, implementing and monitoring are vital in avoiding damage to rural areas. Environmental management, local involvement, sound legislation, sustainable marketing, and realistic planning are all crucial if rural tourism is to be sustainable, and make a positive contribution to the lives of rural people.

References

  • Anderson, S.V. Eco-tourism: Eco-terrorism. Paper presented at the international workshop at the Center for Ecological Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 1-3 September 1997. (Unpublished Mimeograph).
  • Bodlender, J. et al. 1991. Developing Tourism Destinations: Policies and Perspectives. Longman, Essex, England.
  • Butler, R.W. 1980. The concept of a tourism area cycle of evolution. Canadian Geographer 24: 5-12.
  • Cater English Tourist Board. 1991. The Green Light, a Guide to Sustainable Tourism. English Tourist Board, London, England. Quoted in Pamela Wight. 1994. Environmental marketing of tourism. In: Ecotourism: A Sustainable Option?, Elert Cater and Gwen Lowman (Eds.). John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, England, pp. 44-47.
  • Erlet, C. 1994. Introduction to ecotourism. In: Ecotourism: a Sustainable Option? Elert Cater and Gwen Lowman (Eds.). John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, England, pp. 5-6.
  • Getz, D. 1983. Capacity to absorb tourism concepts and implications for strategic planning. Annals of Tourism Research 10: 239-263. Quoted in Jonathan Bodlender et al. 1991. Developing Tourism Destinations: Policies and Perspectives. Longman, Essex, England.
  • Inskeep, E. 1991. Tourism Planning: An Integrated and Sustainable Development Approach. Van Nostrand, New York, U.S.A.
  • Leksakundilok, A. Environmental oriented views for sustainable tourism development planning: Experiences of TISTR. Paper presented at the international workshop of Center for Ecological Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 1-3 September 1997. (Unpublished Mimeo-graph).
  • Pitamahaket, P. "the Development of Kanchanaburi Ecotourism Cooperative: The First Cooperation of Thailand". Paper presented at the international seminar of the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC). Chiang-Mai, 28-31 January 1997. (Unpublished Mimeograph).
  • Poostchi, I. 1986. Rural Development and the Developing Countries: An Interdisciplinary Introductory Approach. The Alger Press Ltd., Ottawa, Canada.
  • Ryan, C. 1991. Recreational Tourism: a Social Science Perspective. Routledge, London, England.
  • Sombuntham, S. Chief Subregional Tourism Section, Tourism Authority of Thailand. Interview, 10 May 1998.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). 1996. Policies and Guidelines: Development of Ecotourism (1995-1996). TAT, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). 1996. Statistical Report 1996. TAT, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). 1997. Statistical Report 1997. TAT, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Villiers, D.J.D. Tourism 2000: Building a sustainable future for Asia-Pacific. Address at Asia Pacific Minister's Conference on Tourism and the Environment, and the High-level Technical Seminar on Sustainable Tourism Development. Maldives, 16-17 February 1997. (Unpublished Mimeograph).
  • Wall, G. 1983. Cycles and capacity: A contradiction in terms? Annals of Tourism Research 10: 268-270.
  • Webster, R.L. 1975. Integrated Communication. University of Hawai, Honolulu, U.S.A. Quoted in Iraj Poostchi. 1986. Rural Development and the Developing Countries: An Interdisciplinary Introductory Approach. The Alger Press Ltd., Ottawa, Canada.
  • Wight, P. 1994. Environmental marketing of tourism. In: Ecotourism: A Sustainable Option? Edited by Elert Cater and Gwen Lowman. John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, England.

Discussion

Several participants were interested in the involvement of local people in the planning and implementation of tourism projects. One asked about government projects, and their level of acceptability among local people. Ms. Nuchnard Rattanasuwongchai replied that the degree of acceptability differs according to each project. Local people are generally in favor of rural tourism and visits to their local community, since it gives them the chance to sell their own products. She emphasized that local people should be consulted before any development takes place. It is also important to explain that tourism is only a by-product of the agricultural economy, and that rural areas should retain their traditional way of life based on agriculture. The two can be complementary: for example, hill tribes in Thailand are now developing direct marketing of fruit and other products to visiting ecotourism groups.

Index of Images

Table 1 Strengths and Weaknesses of Rural Tourism of Thailand

Table 1 Strengths and Weaknesses of Rural Tourism of Thailand

Figure 1 Proposed Kecc Ecotourism Development Activities

Figure 1 Proposed Kecc Ecotourism Development Activities

Source:Pitamahaket1996

Figure 2 Benefits and Commission System

Figure 2 Benefits and Commission System

Table 2 Examples of Product Characteristics/Ranges for Different Segments

Table 2 Examples of Product Characteristics/Ranges for Different Segments

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