TSEA essay

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TSEA essay

  1. 1. Kittitorn Kiatpipattanakun 2/12/10 Sheridan P.8 Tourism in Thailand: Sustainable? “After an hour ferry ride and 5 hours on a bus, we were ready to get off atour next destination. However, we didnt get off at our intended stop at KoPhang-na, so we decided to take the bus all the way to Phuket. We ultimately ended upon Patongbeach and settled into a nice room with refreshing AC. Patong was oneof the places hit by the tsunami last year, and everywhere you looked, new hotels,sidewalks, and statues were being built. For the most part though, everythinglooked like it was just an up and coming tourist town. It was hard to imagine thedevastation that the wave caused, but pictures of the damage were incredible.Trash and sand everywhere. The water went out so fast that the fish just gotstuck on the sand. One shirt said: "Thailand, 2001 Sars, 2002 Terorist threats,2003 bird flu, 2004 Tsunami, whats next? But the people here just continue onwith smiles on their faces! One thing I didnt like about this area is the amount ofold men with very young girls. Everywhere! Its just so gross. (Correll)” Thailand, famous for its silk clothing and elephant rides, blessed for itsgreen lush forests and clear blue rivers, known for world class cuisines andbright sincere smiles, have made it one the top country destination in the world.Its capital city, Bangkok, is ranked third in Euromonitor’s International Top CityDestination Rankings. More than ten million tourists arrived in Thailand in 2008(Bremner). Such high numbers of visitors are exceptional, but if tourism is notmanaged properly, it can destroy its quality. Tourism in Thailand then, will notbe sustainable and can soonsee decline in tourist income. Despite the fact thattourism in Thailand brings social and economic benefits, it is unsustainable dueto the social, economic, and environmental problem it causes. The tourism industries have brought huge economic benefits to Thailand.It has contributed about 567 billion baht to the country’s GDP in 2007(DIethelm). Medical tourism in Thailand have attracted more than a milliontourist in 2005, generating over US$ 600 million (Teh). Bamrungrad is the first
  2. 2. hospital in Southeast Asia to promote medical tourism. Since then, many patientsfrom the United Kingdom, the United States, and several other Europeancountries started to be attracted by Thai hospitals due to its friendlyenvironment and low cost. Furthermore, more than 80% of overseas touristscome to Thailand to visit Thailand’s seas (Worachananant). Since Thailand isgreatly known to have beautiful seas, islands, and beaches, many tourists wholive in the northern region, especially Europeans, during wintertime will come tovisit Thailand to sunbathe. This will greatly benefit mass tourism and theeconomy. Famous beach sites like Phuket, Krabi, and Phangnga generate as muchas 100 billion baht of tourist income, which is 2.9% of Thailand’s GDP. As Phuket,Krabi, and Phangnga alone generate as much as 17.4% of total tourist income inThailand (Israngkura). Admittedly, tourism brings some economic benefits to Thailand;nevertheless, many troubling events have shaken Thailand’s tourism industry.On Saturday 26th of December 2004, there was an earthquake around the islandof Sumatra measured 9.0 on the ritcher scale. This affected main tourists sitelike Phuket, Krabi, and Phangnga. The total destruction to private enterprise, lossof life values, and injuries was 28.4 billion baht. Many aquaculture industries,like fishing and aqua farms were destroyed in total of 1.8 billion baht(Israngkura). Another disastrous event was the October 10, 2010 flood which theministry of tourism and sports reported that it have impacted at last US$ 1.67million loss of tourism revenue (Hong’e). Many tourists cancelled bookings in thesevere flooded places like NakornRatchasima, Lopburi, and Ayutthaya. Theoutbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) on September 11, 2001worldwide disrupted the economy in Thailand. It was estimated that 31 billionbaht was lost and tourist rate drop by 40.2% (Steinmueller). Furthermore,Thailand has high political instability since the constitution in 1973 with morethan 23 prime ministers. On April 10, 2010, there was a clash between thegovernment and the pro-Thaksin protesters; violence emerged in Bangkok withmore than 800 injuries and several dead. The major commercial center,Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok was flooded with red-shirt protestors.Hotel occupancy dropped by 30% in the area and some tourists were forced to
  3. 3. evacuate (Horn). The hotels lost estimating 3-5 million baht a day. The Silomarea lost about 1-3 million a day. This greatly affected tourism by letting out animage of Thailand as instable and dangerous. Unless the government helpslessen the impact of catastrophes in Thailand and manage to recover quickly,tourism in Thailand will not be sustainable. Tourism in Thailand can bring some social benefits towards localcommunities. The road to Khao Yai national park is going to be expanded to a 4-lane road. This will greatly benefit transportation and easier access to touristsites. Restaurants will receive more and faster supplies each day, and resorts canbe built faster with fast material transport time. Furthermore, more people cancome to local village markets and will increase consumers to local farms andlocal artifacts (Sea-tm). Some communities based tourism (CBT)is very beneficialtowards local communities, like the one implemented in the Karen Village ofBaan Huay Hee of Mae Hong Son. This project has been very successful since theVillagersknew how to protect the environment and as a prevention of culturaldegradation, while benefitting from income from tourists (United Nations). Thecommunity will plan their programs themselves, increasing more localinteraction, local development, local economy, and awareness for their ownunique culture (REST). They will feel pride in their culture and would want topreserve the tradition for future generations. There is one program thatThaksinShinnawatra used to boost the rural economy while he was in office wascalled One Tambon One Product or “OTOP”. This helped Thais living in povertyto drop from 13 million in 2000 to 7 million in 2004 (Markar). OTOP is aprogram that helps local products to be developed and marketed, nation wideand globally.The president of Chiang Mai’s OTOP association SakdaSiridechakulsaid, “OTOP has helped incomes to be spread to many people in the villages. Ithas given people [who] produces handicrafts feel [like] they can be part of theglobal economy” (Markar). Moreover, tourism greatly brings in chains jobs fromtaxi drivers to bartenders (Kianeiam). Tourist sites will attract many service jobs,which require not much special education.Such as foot massage services that canbe done almost anywhere, from beaches to hotel rooms and walking ways. This
  4. 4. requires little education but just simple massage techniques that can be easilylearnt. Despite that tourism brings some social benefits, it is yet unsustainablesince it increases social problems. Although the fact that there are manycommunities based on tourism opportunities, many tourists still would like tostay in fancy hotels, not in home stays where they cannot order their own food.While trekking through exotic native villages, the Thai tour guide would explainthe natives’ lives like they are exhibits. The tour guide would say everything forthe native as though they are a rare species of existence, which decreases thesocial status of the natives (REST). Moreover, during holidays, many touristdestinations have overcrowding problems. In Khao Yai national park, there areinsufficient toilets, food court, parking lots, and the traffic is poorly controlled,which can annoy the local community (Saminpanya). Sometimes tourists woulduse toilets in local homes when they cannot find a gas station. When parking lotsare full, tourists tend to park on roads, which can significantly decrease trafficflow. This becomes worse when the roads leading to tourist sites are unpavedand narrow, which is common in Thailand. Thirdly, the Vietnam War was a timewhen many American soldiers were provided with sex services; tourism inThailand boomed, especially sex tourism (Prostitution). Sex tourism in Thailandbecame famous but is illegal according to the law. There are continued socialproblems dealing with sex tourism and that is because of poorly enforcedprostitution law. The corrupted Thai police, and public official are involved withmafias who run underground drug and sex trafficking. Many sex workers haveone day off per month and have psychological problems. They have extremelylow self-esteem, self-worth, self-blame, guilt, and depression (Prostitution). Lastly, the main reason why tourism in Thailand is unsustainable isbecause tourismin Thailand is creating more environmental problems. Sewagedisposal facilities in Khao Yai national park can harm the environment(Saminpanya). If the facility cannot hold a large number of sewage from manytourists, it will leak and can appear in rivers. Chemical involving in decomposingsewage may leak out, if the process is not manage properly when the facilitiesare over-using. Soon the rivers will be polluted and will affect on beautiful
  5. 5. waterfall sites. More than 80% of overseas tourist comes to Thailand to visit theseas, and an average of two third caused some coral damage by breakingfragments from fragile coral, an average of 19 breakages per hour of diving. Thecumulative effects of these disturbances can cause significant decline of coralcover (Worachananant). If the diving tourism industry is to sustain itself, there isa need to limit the diver’s contact with the corals, or by pre-briefing to the divers.Once a coral is destroyed, it will not grow back again, and will affect the life cycleof numerous species of fish. The Thanarat road that leads to Khao Yai nationalpark is 23 km long, and the engineer had already cut down 128 trees. However,the Royal forestry department specified only 20 trees to be cut down (Sea-tm).As of June 2010, it was halted for construction and some engineers are orderedto face trial in the court. This incident not only show the engineers’ lack ofresponsibility, but it may suggest that some group of people wanted the roads tocome by near their places, thus sacrificing the environment to one’s desire. Aslong as some people in Thailand will stop being greedy and do small sacrifice tobenefits other, Khao Yai will be a great lush green forest where in the future, itwill always be there. Although there are some social and economic benefits, tourism inThailand is currently unsustainable because of social, economic, andenvironmental problems. Overcrowding tourist sites may bring problems to localcommunities, sex tourism may bring social problems to sex workers, and nativecommunities may face the decrease of social status. Political unrest andworldwide epidemic outbreak will affect Thailand’s tourism industriesnegatively. Nature tourist sites risk being destroyed if park managers or thegovernment act hesitantly to current problems, thus these sites will not besustainable and tourists will not come. One shirt says: “2006 coup, 2007 airportclose, 2010 bloodshed, Thailand, it’ll get better.”

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