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|Title: ||Community Participation in Ecotourism Development in Thailand|
|Authors: ||Leksakundilok, Anucha|
|Keywords: ||Community Participation;Ecotourism;Thailand;Community-based Ecotourism|
|Issue Date: ||2004|
|Publisher: ||University of Sydney. Geosciences|
|Abstract: ||Ecotourism emerged as an alternative form of tourism in the 1990s to mitigate the faults of conventional (mass) tourism in meeting the needs of sustainable development. It has since become widespread in Thailand and is adopted not only in natural areas but also in rural communities. Key elements of ecotourism include a focus on ecological resources, sustainable management, environmental education, and community participation. Community participation receives a high degree of consideration among developers in Thailand. Ecotourism (ET) is seen to support this concept and is increasingly geared in the direction of social development. These trends form the backdrop to this study on community participation in ecotourism development. The study applies a triangulation methodology to collect data by combining both qualitative and quantitative methods, combining theory and empirical study to analyse the context of how local people have participated in ecotourism development. The study pays particular attention to the practices and opinions of local people in recognition of communities' rights and responsibilities in controlling their own development. The empirical study was carried out at two levels, including a general survey by postal questionnaire (thirty-one respondents) and in-depth study in four areas (Umphang, Khiriwong, Sasom and Tha Madua). The research merges theory and practice into an analysis and empirical presentation throughout the study. Theoretically, the thesis is informed by political economy and political ecology approaches, together with the concept of participation in community development and tourism development models. The research found that many communities achieve a degree of self-management in offering tourism services such as homestays, guided tours, cultural performances and cultural products. Community ecotourism organisations have been established in most communities in order to serve these new activities and to create a collective management process. Similarities in pattern and differentiation in practices among many communities were supported by different outside initiatives, developed according to similar aims and involving similar processes, but there is no uniformity or single model that is effectively applied to all communities. One significant barrier for local communities to take a major role in ecotourism is the access to ecotourism resources, which are mostly located in protected areas and are controlled by state agencies. This has led them to promote primarily their own cultural resources. Consequently, these practical changes have led to a transformation of the dominant development concept from Ecotourism (ET) to Community-based Ecotourism (CBET). Results also show that most practices involve a level of cooperation in decision-making and action with other stakeholders who are in a better position to run tourism businesses. It is difficult for local communities to be empowered to control the whole situation, which is sometimes claimed to be the ultimate goal level of local participation. The demands of marketing and conflict in management among local people, together with the limitations in accessing natural resources, are the weakest points of and constraints on the communities. To deal with these limitations, communities try to create relationships with outsiders. To develop better management of community tourism, many communities rely on help and support from outside, especially from government agencies. This, however, impels the community to become dependent on outsiders. It is also hard for communities to generate a high level of income offering basic services, since there are many levels of demand from different types of ecotourists. In summary, the main contributions of this study are: an understanding of community tourism in Thailand; the experiences of ecotourism development in the community from the leading case studies; directions, roles and responsibilities of actors and community organisations in particular; a range of options for community action in support of a more participatory process in ecotourism development. Last but not least is a set of recommendations for community-based ecotourism development from the level of policy application to practical improvement at the community level.|
|Rights and Permissions: ||Copyright Leksakundilok, Anucha;http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/copyright.html|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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