Chapter Writing: Royal Kraal Elephant Farm in Ayutthaya

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¶ … Royal Kraal Elephant Farm in Ayutthaya, Thailand as a Cultural Heritage Tourism Site

The Royal Kraal Elephant Farm in Ayutthaya, Thailand is located within the Extended Bangkok Metropolitan Area that has received a great deal of assistance from the Thai government in its efforts to industrialize. Beyond their growing industrial base, the local residents of Ayutthaya, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Historic City of Ayutthaya, 2013), also enjoy a valuable resource in the form of the Royal Kraal which has been a major cultural-tourism destination for several years. This trend is also consistent with the larger patterns taking place in the global travel and tourism industry where cultural-heritage tourism is becoming increasing popular (Smith, 2003). See also Appendix I and II for images of the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm and the cultural use of elephants at the Royal Kraal.

Aim and objectives of study:

The overarching aim of this study is to investigate the importance of Royal Kraal Elephant Farm in Ayutthaya, Thailand as a cultural heritage tourism site for tourists and local people. In furtherance of this aim, the study's objectives are:

1. To interpret the value of the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm as a heritage site for local people and populations;

2. To understand the value of the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm as a heritage site for tourists in and around the site

3. To identify the tourist motivations for visiting the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm as a cultural heritage tourism site; and,

4. To examine the importance of sustainable management of the Royal Kraal Elephant Farm as a cultural heritage tourism site.

Theoretical Frameworks

The main theoretical framework that structures this thesis derives from the field of anthropology, the main guiding framework being cultural anthropology, in relation to culture, tourism and heritage. Cultural anthropology derives its ability to dissect and analyze a culture through its investigation into how any one society and people act at any given time (Lobera, 2003). This theory will then assist in achieving a better understanding of the value of the Royal Kraal to hosts and guests in this research. The theory is congruent with the information provided by Rapport and Overing (2000, p. 244) that cultural anthropologists are "intent on juxtaposing one viewpoint and symbolic construction of the world against another and identifying their ongoing relation." A cultural anthropological theoretical framework focuses on how people's thoughts and behaviors are affected by their cultural environment (Winthrop, 1999). The researcher intends to use this theoretical framework to evaluate tourist and local comments and observations, as well as main themes from the interviews conducted for this purpose. By using cultural anthropology's practices, the researcher seeks to gain an improved understanding of how ontology treats human actions and attitudes (Searle, 2006.

Theory of Culture

Olsen (2005) emphasizes that, "The interrelationship between tourism and culture is complex. Tourism, while viewed by governments as the savior of struggling economies, has led to instances where cultural artifacts, ceremonies, traditions, landscapes, and ways-of-life have been commodified into a sellable resource for tourist consumption. This has given rise to many issues relating to tourism and culture, including the transformation of cultures, cultural politics, and questions about the (in)authenticity of touristic experiences, to name but a few" (p. 152).

Heritage can be considered as a characteristic of culture because valued objects such as historic artifacts and buildings as well as cultural traditions are made concrete through generations, tradition and practice (Nisha, 2012). Viewed as a potentially valuable product, a region's heritage qualities can be leveraged in ways that promote it as a desired destination for domestic and international visitors along with the active preservation of culture and traditions. Marketing this unique blend of heritage and natural attributes for tourism promotional purposes, though, inevitably involves all of the heritage stakeholders, including especially local residents. For instance, according to Nisha (2012, p. 20), "Tourism is a resource industry, one that is dependent on nature's endowment and society's heritage."

Conceptual Frameworks

Cultural Tourism

The first component of the conceptual framework is the proven efficacy of cultural tourism in preserving and promoting cultural differences in sustainable ways. According to Filipova (2008, p. 311), "Processes are being observed of radical transformations of the role of 'culture' in modern economy and society, and the cultural sector is increasingly apprehended as a border area of interaction between the social and economic… [END OF PREVIEW]

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