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TOUR1101: INTERNATIONAL TOURISM MANAGEMENT

LUKE MEYER

IMPACTS OF TOURISM
DEVELOPMENT IN
THAILAND
Individual Report

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer

Contents
Executive Summary / Abstract..................

1.0 Introduction.

- 1.1 Background
- 1.2 Methodology
- 1.3 Limitations

2.0 Findings / Results / Discussion ...


- 2.1 Economic Impacts
- 2.2 Environmental Impacts
- 2.3 Socio-cultural Impacts

5-8

3.0 Conclusions.
9
4.0 Recommendations.
10
5.0 References..
11-12
6.0 Appendices.....
13-15
Executive Summary / Abstract
2

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


This report discusses the positive and negative economic, environmental and
socio-cultural impacts of tourism to Thailand. These need to be discussed so that the
negative impacts can be minimized and the positive impacts highlighted in order to
further grow the tourism industry and the wellbeing of the country.
Economic impacts found in this report include:
-

Positive: the contribution of tourism to the GDP and providing employment.


Negative: the overreliance on tourism to generate income in Thailand.

Environmental impacts found in this report include:


-

Positive: the raise of awareness of environmental issues and the use of

money from tourism to further environmental needs.


Negative: pollution, litter and depletion of natural resources.

Socio-cultural impacts found in this report include:


-

Positive: improvement of quality of life due to development of public facilities,

services and infrastructure.


Negative: westernization of the Thai culture specifically though food and
prostitution and sex tourism.
Recommendations were revised so that the effect of tourism could be

improved. Firstly, it was stated that in order for there to be less risk in tourism it
should not solely be relied on to generate income for a country. In order to solve this
the contribution of other forms of income should be improved as well as tourism.
Secondly, because of the prevalence, the issue of sex tourism should be revised. A
new government policy should be created to specifically address prostitution. This
can be done by tourism organizations though rallying around the cause.

1.0 Introduction

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


In 2015 Thailand had 29.88 million tourist arrivals (Vanhaleweyk, 2016)
indicating Thailands involvement in the tourism industry and the significance of
tourism to Thailand. These large numbers of tourists imply that there are many
economic, environmental and socio-cultural impacts from tourism in Thailand. Some
of these impacts are positive for the country and the tourism industry but many are
negative. This report will discuss these impacts of tourism development in further
detail.
1.1 Background
Shown on the world map in figure 1, Thailand is located in Southern
Asia bordering Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Laos. It has an
area of 513 120 square kilometers making it the worlds 51 largest country
(WorldAtlas, 2015). According to the United Nations Statistics Division (2016)
the population of Thailand is 67.223 million and the capital city, Bangkok, has
a population of 9.098 million.
1.2 Methodology
Various research methods were used to acquire data so that it could be
used and analyzed. Data was gathered from peer reviewed journal articles,
government departments, organizations within the tourism industry and
credible internet websites.
1.3 Limitations
Various issues arose while conducting research which hindered the
extent of detail of the report. This included:
-

The lack of comprehensive information about environmental effects.


The lack of credible research such as peer reviewed journals on the

positive and negative impacts of tourism on Thailand.


Incapability to gather information from primary sources such as self
conducted surveys and interviews

2.0 Findings / Results / Discussion

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


From the research conducted the following results were found in response
issues of the economic, environmental and socio-cultural impacts.
2.1 Economic Impacts
It was found that the tourism industry has a significant effect on the
economy in Thailand. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council
(2015) a large portion of the countys GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is
directly contributed to tourism, roughly 8.6% in 2014. As seen in figure 2, by
2025 this percentage is predicted to grow by 6.7% pa to reach 11.7% of GDP
(World Travel & Tourism Council, 2015). When including indirect and induced
contribution to Thailands GDP it was found that in 2014 it was 19.3%, being
expected to reach 25.8% by 2025 (figure 3).
As well as the contribution to GDP tourism also generates employment.
In 2014 travel and tourism directly generated 5.8% of total employment in
Thailand. This is projected to grow significantly until 2025 by 4.6% (World
Travel & Tourism Council, 2015) The total contribution (including indirect and
induced) to employment in Thailand is 14.1% of total employment (figure 4)
(World Travel & Tourism Council, 2015).
Tourism can impact an economy negatively when the country becomes
too reliant on tourism to generate income. Tourism can sometimes be seen as
an unpredictable form of revenue that is dependent on many external factor
for success. If these external factors were to become unfavorable much of the
countys economy would be lost therefore sending the country into a financial
crisis. This situation is considerably relevant to Thailand as much of their
economy relies on tourism. According to the World Tourism Organization
(2014) Thailand received the 7th most international tourism receipts at 42.1
billion US$ by 2013. When external catastrophes hit Thailand over the last 10
years, income from tourism dropped dramatically. In 2004 much of Thailand
was hit by a tsunami which effected the tourist numbers in 2004-2005 which
decrease from 11.74 million in 2004 to 11.57 million in 2005 (figure 5)
(Vanhaleweyk, 2016). Because of this it decreased the amount of revenue
produced for the country.

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer

2.2 Environmental Impacts


Much of the tourism industry in Thailand relies of the environment.
Many people travel to the country to see the pristine beaches, reefs, islands,
rivers and rainforest. This creates positive and negative impacts for the
environment and country.
The Mekong river that runs through Thailand is a popular basis for
tourism. Different sites of the basin are effected by tourism in different
ways:
-

Chiang Rai little environmental impact (Mekong River Commission,


2010).

Chong Mek, Ubon Ratchatani Province increased litter, trading of wild


plants from Leo effecting the wild plant populations (Mekong River
Commission, 2010).

Chiang Khan waste water from seafood restaurants and from


washing, increase in garbage in the village, pollution in the rivers and
reduction of natural resources (Mekong River Commission, 2010).
As seen in the previous paragraph tourism negatively effects the

environment in Thailand through water pollution, litter, depletion of natural


resources.
Tourism also affects the environment in a positive way. In Thailand
environmental tourism has generated a lot of awareness for the protection of
the environment and has used money from tourists the further preserve the
environment.
2.3 Socio-cultural Impacts
Tourism has many socio-cultural impacts in Thailand including the
economic impacts stated earlier, preservation of culture, improved
infrastructure and rural transformation which are positive. Negative impacts
include commodification, cultural westernization, crime and prostitution and
sex tourism.

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


Tourism has improved the quality of life in Thailand significantly. This is
due to the development of community facilities such as hospitals, toilets and
food access. Although wastewater is one of the major forms of pollution in
Thailand, wastewater and sewage systems have been developed over the
past few decades in Bangkok (Chokewinyo & Khanayai, 2013). Chokewinyo
and Khanayai (2013) state that the government has invested 83,000 million
Baht into the project. Because of the influence of tourists to improve in this
area many local residents are benefiting. With proper waste disposal systems,
the hygiene of the residents has improved. Largely the improvement of
wastewater systems can be contributed to the increase of life expectancy at
birth which was 65.5 in 1980 and was recently 74.3 in 2012 (United Nations
Development Programme, 2013).
In the major cities and tourist destination in Thailand, Westernization of
Thai culture is extremely prevalent. Over the years the culture has changed to
fit in with western norms so that the country is appealing to western tourists.
Food is one way in which Thailands culture has changed it fit in with tourists.
As well as traditional dishes in Thailand changing, western food is also being
established in the country. KFC, McDonalds and Krispy Kreme have all found
their way into the Thai culture and are continuing to succeed (SheSimmers,
2013). KFC has more than 400 branches across the country (KFC Thailand,
2010) and McDonalds has more than 180 (Chalabi & Burn-Murdoch, 2012).
Prostitution and sex tourism, an industry majorly fueled by tourism, is
also a major issue in Thailand. In 2005 there was a suspected number of
200,000 to 300,000 sex workers, increasing up to 800,000 to 2 million from
recent findings (Dariya, Terry, & Greeny, 2012). This shows that the rise of
amount of sex workers is directly proportional to the rise of tourists. It is
estimated that 70% of all male tourists coming to Thailand are sex tourists
(World Outreach International, n.d.). The motivations for many men to become
a sex tourist is the low prices that sex workers offer due their state of poverty,
racist and sexist attitudes towards Thai women, exploitative government

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


policies, and the unique sexual experience that is given (World Outreach
International, n.d.).

3.0 Conclusions
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IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


Tourism, being one of Thailands major industries, is extremely significant to
the country. It has many positive and negative economic, environmental and sociocultural impacts.
Positive impacts on the economy include the contribution of tourism to GDP
and provision of employment for locals, while negative impacts include the
overreliance on tourism which may lead to economic downfall when external factors
are an influence. Positive impacts on the environment include promotion of
awareness of the environment and generation of funds for environmental
organizations through tourists. Negative effects include pollution by tourists, litter and
the depletion of natural resources. Tourisms positive socio-cultural influences
include increase in quality of life though improvement of community facilities. The
westernization of Thailands culture and sex tourism are also some negative impacts.

4.0 Recommendations

IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


Although the Tourism industry is largely successful in Thailand there are still
many things that the governing body of tourism could do to improve its effectiveness.
In light of this, the tourism industry must assess and minimize the negative effects of
tourism and accentuate the positive while also looking for new revenues for positive
influence.
In order for there to be less risk in relying on tourism as the major part of the
economy the government needs to develop other revenue sources for the country to
fall back on. The contribution of Agriculture, construction, mining, transport and other
forms of income to the GDP can be improved so that when an external factor effects
the profits of tourism it will have a limited impact.
One negative aspect in which they could minimize is the prostitution and sex
tourism industry. As this is one of the most prevalent negative socio-cultural effect in
Thailand it needs to be addressed. Currently there is no law in the Thai constitution
directly addressing prostitution (Hennessy, 2011). If a direct law was put in place and
enforced, it would diminish the extent that prostitution and sex tourism continues. In
order for this to happen rallies and protest need to be made for the introduction of
that law.

5.0 References

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IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


An assessment of environmental impacts of tourism in the Lower Mekong Basin.
(2016) (1st ed., pp. 37-46). Cambodia. Retrieved from
http://www.mrcmekong.org/assets/Publications/technical/Tech-No28-An-essessmentof-Env.pdf
Chalabi, M. & Burn-Murdoch, J. (2013). McDonald's 34,492 restaurants: where are
they?. The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2016, from
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jul/17/mcdonalds-restaurantswhere-are-they
Chokewinyoo, P. & Ghanayai, P. (2016). Wastewater Production, Treatment, and
Use in Thailand (1st ed., p. 1). Bali, Indonesia: UN-Water Activity Information
System. Retrieved from
http://www.ais.unwater.org/ais/pluginfile.php/501/mod_page/content/87/report_thaila
nd.pdf
Dariya, Terry, & Greene,. (2012). Sex Tourism in Thailand. Tourism in Thailand.
Retrieved 27 April 2016, from https://tourthaitour.wordpress.com/pages/sex-tourismin-thailand/
Hennessy, A. (2011). Current Legal Framework: Prostitution in Thailand.
International Models Project On Women's Rights. Retrieved 31 April 2016, from
http://www.impowr.org/content/current-legal-framework-prostitution-thailand
KFC Thailand. (2010). Kfcthailand.com. Retrieved 25 April 2016, from
http://www.kfcthailand.com/en/about_kfc_thailand.php
Sex Tourism In Thailand (1st ed., pp. 1-7). Retrieved from
http://www.wouk.org/rahab_international/pdf_files/Sex%20Tourism%20in
%20Thailand.pdf

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IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer


Thailand HDI values and rank changes in the 2013 Human Development Report.
(2013) (1st ed., pp. 1-2). Retrieved from
http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/Country-Profiles/THA.pdf
The Indigenization of Thai Restaurants Overseas: Part One American Fast Food
Chains in Thailand. (2013). SheSimmers. Retrieved 26 April 2016, from
http://shesimmers.com/2013/01/indigenization-of-thai-restaurants-overseas-part-oneamerican-fast-food-chains-in-thailand.html
Travel and Tourism Economic Impact 2015. (2016) (1st ed., pp. 3-4). London.
Retrieved from https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic%20impact
%20research/countries%202015/thailand2015.pdf
UNdata Country Profile Thailand. (2016). United Nations Statistics Division.
Retrieved 23 April 2016, from http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx?
crName=THAILAND#Environment
UNWTO Tourism Highlights. (2014) (1st ed., p. 6). Retrieved from http://www.eunwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284416226
Vanhaleweyk, G. (2016). Tourism Statistics Thailand 2000-2015. Thaiwebsites.com.
Retrieved 25 April 2016, from http://www.thaiwebsites.com/tourism.asp
Where is Thailand?. (2015). WorldAtlas. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from
http://www.worldatlas.com/as/th/where-is-thailand.html

6.0 Appendices
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IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer

Figure 1: The location of Thailand on a world map (WorldAtlas, 2015)

Figure 2: Percentage of tourisms direct contribution to GDP in Thailand (World


Travel & Tourism Council, 2015)

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IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer

Figure 3: Percentage of tourisms contribution to GDP in Thailand (World Travel &


Tourism Council, 2015)

Figure 4: Percentage of tourisms contribution to employment in Thailand (World


Travel & Tourism Council, 2015)
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IMPACTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND | Luke Meyer

Figure 5: Negative effects of external factors on tourist arrivals (Vanhaleweyk,


2016).

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