Challenges to the Sustainability of the Tourism Industry in Thailand Research Proposal

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Developing countries are extremely dependent upon the tourism industry for both the economic and social stability that the industry provides. From an economic standpoint tourism provides jobs and economic stability. From a social point-of-view, tourism is leisure that provides knowledge and understanding of different cultures.

Thailand is a prime example of a developing country that values tourism. Tourism in Thailand gathered momentum when Thailand's government implemented the tourism development project into the Fourth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1977-1981). Through the tourism development plan, Thailand's government wanted to achieve economic growth congruent with national economic and social development. In addition, the other goals of the project were to maintain the social and cultural needs by resuscitating: natural resources, the environment, culture, customs and traditions as well as ancient ruins (http://www.nesdb.go.th).

The tourism industry plays a significant role in the economic growth of Thailand.

The rapid growth of the tourism industry is a reflection of the country's booming and diversified economy reflected in rising incomes from other countries, trade balance, service and gross production employment, income distributions, culture, improved environment and reputation. These have made Thailand the most important destination in Southeast Asia (http://www.nesdb.go.th).

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Although Thailand has enjoyed some economic success with the implementation of the tourism development project, the recent tsunami has proven to be a formidable challenge to Thailand's tourism industry. This along with other challenges, such as tourism management, may prove extremely detrimental to the Thai Economy over time if the situation is not handled appropriately.

2. Rationale

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Challenges to the Sustainability of the Tourism Industry in Thailand Assignment

The tsunami of 2004 in which tourists and natives alike were killed has produced a challenge for the sustainability of the tourism industry in that country. In addition, the quality management of the Ninth National Economics and Social Development Plan (2002-2006) is regarded as a guideline towards the effort to sustain this industry in Thailand. However, the research indicates that tourism development plans are poorly organised and implemented (Lanfant et al., 1995) without there being consideration of all its social and natural implications (Wyllie, 2000; Holden, 2000), which in effect may challenge the sustainability of the Thai tourism industry and therefore the entire economic development of the country (Sinclair and Stabler, 1997). Moreover, Thailand, under the management of the NNESDP, faces a changing local administration due to the constitution (1997) stipulating that the government must decentralise administration. Since each local administration is an independent section with compatible power, it is anticipated that separate management powers, in some places, may cause environmental problems and degeneration, indicating a non-effective future for Thai tourism products; and therefore, unsustainable implications for the Thai tourism industry.

The research, accordingly, will attempt to investigate the sustainable potential of the Thai tourism industry in the wake of the tsunami disaster and through the quality management guidelines set forth by the NNESDP.

3. Aim and Objectives (1/2-page)

Thailand is regarded as a low price tourism destination, due to the substandard quality of tourism products and services offered. Low prices, according to the same theory, indicate neglected products and services at an administrative level, which means that the Thai tourism product may stay at a low price. The combination of low prices with low quality perceptions of tourism products could result in negative economic impacts, in terms of returns on related investments, with equally negative social extensions; due to the interrelation of economy and society. Accordingly, it appears that the sustainability of the Thai tourism industry under the NNESDP is dependent on the quality of the management. In addition, in the aftermath of the worlds worst natural disaster, Thailand's Tourism industry faces new challenges as it pertains to the sustainability of the industry.

Therefore the aim of the research will be to investigate at a theoretical level, the extent to which there is a relationship between rebuilding consumer trust after a natural disaster, quality management, and sustainable tourism development practices. The academic objective of this research may be seen as a case study of the subject for future reference, as an in depth analysis and evaluation of the findings is intended. This may provide feedback and guidelines for valid investigation procedures on similar issues as well as an insight into the sustainability of Thailand's tourism industry under the NNESDP in the wake of a serious natural disaster.

4. Literature review

Travel and Tourism in Thailand

According to a research report published by the Mintel Reports nearly a third of Thailand's territory is arable land. However agriculture is responsible for less than 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) (Tourism and the Economy (Thailand). Industry and services each hold dominant positions, the former generating 44% of GDP in 2003, the latter 46.3%.(Tourism and the Economy (Thailand) In addition, the World Tourism Organization (WTO), tourism generated 5.1% of Thailand's GDP in 2003 (Tourism and the Economy (Thailand).

The report asserts that even though Thailand's economy is still described as agrarian, tourism is its fastest growing contributor. In fact between 1997 and 2001, foreign tourist expenditure increased by more than one third and proved a consistent performer throughout the earlier float of the baht currency in 1997(Tourism and the Economy (Thailand). Rittichainuwat et al. (2001) also report that Thailand is Asia's third-most-popular tourist destination in 1998. Additionally, during the economic crash of the late 1990s, Thailand proved to be an attractive and popular destination, where western currencies went a long way. The hope is now that reduced holiday prices can overcome any psychological reluctance to travel, kick-starting an off-season recovery (Tourism and the Economy (Thailand). 2005.

Impact of Tsunami on the sustainability of the tourism industry

The Mintel Reports also asserts that after Thailand's inbound tourism market surpassed 10 million arrivals for the first time in 2001, the government announced its intention to make the country one of the world's top five tourism destinations by 2020. In addition,

Mintel's International Tourism Forecasts report - published prior to December's tsunami - had projected that Thailand was capable of attracting almost 20 million arrivals by the close of the decade, and the news emanating from Thailand suggests that this should still be possible. The damage caused to the southern peninsula by the Boxing Day tsunami at the close of 2004 is being addressed and the Thai authorities are busy projecting images of restored facilities and pristine beaches as they seek to persuade the international market to return. Although the area and resorts which were struck represent one of Thailand's most popular tourism areas, Thailand is more than mere beachfront when it comes to tourism product. There is now perhaps an opportunity to communicate the fact and publicise the attractions of the mountainous north, central plains and the Gulf of Thailand, as well as the restored and renovated southwest peninsula (Travel and Tourism (About This Report)."

Thailand has also spent millions of dollars on an advertising campaign to attract tourists back to the region (After the Tsunami, 2005). This campaign involved flying more than 1000 journalists from across the globe to Thailand. The purpose of this was to demonstrate to tourists that Thailand could handle vacationers. Fresco (2005) asserts that the campaign is one of the largest ever marketing endeavors with over £3 million spent on flying print and television journalist into Bangkok and then sending them to various hotels on different islands (Fresco 2005).

The campaign is particularly geared toward tourists from the UK and Ireland, to know that their country is ready after the devastation of the tsunami on Boxing Day (Fresco 2005).

In addition, to the Earthquake and subsequent tsunami that took place in December of 2004, The Times reports that an earthquake that took place off the coast of Indonesia in early 2005 also threatens the sustainability of Thailand's Tourism industry. Fresco (2005) contends that Thailand senior government officials are concerned that tourists will believe that the earthquake in Indonesia, will somehow affect Thailand (Fresco, 2005). The officials have warned that if tourists do not resume travel to Thailand the economy will be further devastated and that some sectors of the economy may never recover (Fresco, 2005). The concern was so great that the Governor of the Tourist Authority of Thailand issued a statement encouraging tourists to come to Thailand stating that "it was business as usual and they had not been effected, but privately officials are worried that tourists will view the earthquake as another sign that it is not safe to visit the region (Fresco, 2005)."

Fresco (2005) also asserts that if the tourism industry in Thailand is not revived, there will be serious social implications. The article asserts that Thai officials believe that a lack of tourists and the money that they bring will lead to social trouble for the thousands of people who make their living in the tourism industry. These people include hotel workers and merchants who sell their goods on or near many of the affected beaches. This problem is particularly true at Patong, a stretch of road in Phuket well-known for its cheap goods. In addition, Fresco (2005) asserts that Some are worried that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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