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Promoting Cultural Heritage at the"Literature Review" Chapter

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[. . .] Moreover, in spite its strategic partnership with Elephantstay, an international organization committed to elephant conservation and ongoing support from the Thai government, the Royal Kraal at Ayutthaya needs additional resources to fulfill its mission of rescuing and caring for an increasingly endangered, aging elephant population in Thailand. The Royal Kraal's mission is important because the elephant population in Thailand is regarded by international conservation agencies such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Species Survival Commission Asian Elephant Specialist Group as being endangered, having been in a state of steady decline since the 1970s (Reading & Miller 2000).

Fortunately, the plight of these and other aging elephants was recognized by Laithongrien Meepan who founded the Prakochaban Foundation in 1995. With initial support from this foundation, the Royal Kraal was established as a multi-purpose facility with the mission to care for these aging pachyderms, to rehabilitate ailing, abused, killer bull elephants and to conduct reproductive research that can assist zoological parks around the world. These are certainly laudable and worthwhile efforts and goals, but obtaining the funding needed to support these operations, like other elephant conservation facilities in Asia (Reading & Miller 2000), also remains a constant challenge for the Royal Kraal. Finally, cultural heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the international travel and tourism industry (Zeppel & Hall 1999). According to two industry analysts, "The travel industry is increasingly recognizing the significance of cultural and heritage resources and their marketability. To maximize the long-term benefits of cultural and heritage tourism, however, attention needs to be given to developing effective management strategies which will ensure the conservation and appropriate use of irreplaceable cultural and heritage resources" (Zeppel & Hall 1999: 45). Therefore, identifying opportunities to promote the Royal Kraal in Ayutthaya using a cultural heritage tourism marketing approach represented a timely and valuable enterprise for all of the stakeholders involved.

1.6: Methodological Considerations

The methodology described above represents a useful and effective approach to identifying opportunities for promoting cultural heritage tourism at the Royal Kraal, Elephant Farm in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

1.7: Limitations of Research Study

The primary limitation of the case study methodology used in this study was its inherent reliance on the subjective interpretation of the study findings by the researcher with the potential for researcher bias to adversely affect the interpretation of the findings that emerge from the synthesis of the primary and secondary data (Neuman, 2003).

1.8: Organisation of Thesis

This study uses a five-chapter format to achieve the above-stated research aims and objectives. Chapter one of the study introduces the topics under consideration, including a discussion of the focus of the research study, an overview of research in tourism studies, the theoretical and conceptual issues that guided the study, the study's research aims and objectives and a justification for the study. A discussion concerning the methodological considerations that were involved in applying the methodological steps to the research study is followed by an assessment of the limitations of the research study. Chapter two of the research study provides a critical review of the relevant and peer-reviewed literature concerning cultural-heritage tourism, and chapter three describes more fully the research study's methodology, including a description of the study approach, the data-gathering method and the database of study consulted. Chapter four of the research study is comprised of an analysis of the primary and secondary data developed during the research process and chapter five presents the research study's conclusions, a summary of the research and salient recommendations.

Chapter Two: Review of the Literature

Chapter Introduction

This chapter provides a review of the literature that corresponds to the study's guiding research questions as follows: (i) motivation of cultural-heritage tourists who visit the royal kraal, (ii) the cultural importance of the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm; opportunities for promoting cultural heritage tourism at the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm; and, (iv) a discussion concerning the debate on cultural tourism in the context of nature.

Motivation of Cultural-Heritage Tourists

Although every visitor is unique, cultural-heritage tourists are typically motivated by a keen interest in the relevance and significance of various aspects of a location's offerings as they relate to local or regional identity (Smith, 2003). Perhaps the most basic and common error a presenter may make in his attempt to comprehend what a tourist wants is to focus on a tourist's chosen item of desire itself -- the travel object or destination -- rather than to look deeper into what exactly are the elements of its attraction and why they should entice a particular person or group. If the latter course is pursued, then not only does it become easier to cater to a tourist satisfactorily but it also becomes much more possible to provide an attraction for that person which can meet a range of other needs as well -- those of presenters and sites, for example. Essentially, with appropriate information it may be possible to diversify to meet tourist needs just as satisfactorily, or even more satisfactorily than if they were the sole objective, yet allow other needs too to be met (Boniface, 1999).

Tourists are humans, so it is at human behaviour that we need to look in enquiry. Why should a person want to travel and, moreover, for culture? (Boniface, 1999).

The starting point is the assumption that, whether or not most men "lead lives of quiet desperation," the majority, at the very least, lead lives which are for the most part boring and dull. Few people, it is suggested, find that their everyday lives provide them with all the dimensions that they feel they need (Boniface, 1999). Most of their waking hours, and more especially the lion's share of their "discretionary time," are allocated to trying to make contact with, or put themselves in line for some excitement and stimulation. Conversely, those people who do have varied and exciting lives may yearn for periods of peace and quiet. According to our personal predilections and preferences, we "see" fulfilment in different items and access avenues. Whatever our particular goals and their means of possible achievement, in the process of pursuing them a situation is created for entrepreneurial activity. In viewing humanity in this, albeit somewhat simplistic, way, a scene is nevertheless produced; and the scene set is that for the provision of services or "goods" by one, for consumption by another (Boniface, 1999).

The tourism industry, of which, as has been said, cultural tourism forms a major part, is just one portion of this whole sector which sets out to service humanity's needs. It is, however, an extremely salient portion since, as the tourism body industry is quite open about, its occupation is dealing in our dreams. While it will, of course, serve practical surface needs, the tourist industry in catering to them will also be meeting desires which we hold deep within (Boniface, 1999).

In relation to education and status the following example of somewhat concealed motivations can be provided. Ostensibly, we may want to travel, or visit a museum, for educational purposes. Such a reason would be what we have told friends, or someone whom we are seeking to impress, or a market researcher; it may even be what have told ourselves. The reality might be that we do not want to go at all, because we are not interested in the subject in question, or we may even fear that we are not "up" to the subject. "The reality could be that we would rather be at the cinema than on a cultural cruise, or on a course at a country house, or touring a "worthy" museum's displays. The clever tourism operator will interpret correctly the real need and cater to it in a way which both suits himself and his cultural site" (emphasis added) (Boniface, 1999, p. 19).

The problem is that there is no such thing as the average tourist. Tourists can be, and have been, categorized into various groups by their motivations for travel. In the context of cultural tourism, in particular, it is possible to identify various main types of need of a cultural site. But a site is a site and, with the best intentions in the world, it would be over-optimistic and quite impractical to expect any one individual site to meet all or even most of those needs. The immediate and obvious solution is niche marketing, focusing on just one audience; but even that one niche might be physically too much for a site. Alternatively a site might be perceived as being capable of only satisfying one need while it is regarded as being very desirable for any or all of a range of reasons that it should meet some more. A difficulty in general is that "the picture" of the tourism situation in our quickly changing world is forever altering, and therefore needs constant… [END OF PREVIEW]

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