Ecotourism planning and management and sustainable development in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.

CHUAMUANGPHAN, Nipon. (2009). Ecotourism planning and management and sustainable development in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This study examines ecotourism planning and management and sustainable development in rural areas of Chiang Rai province, Thailand. The assessment was based on developing a new conceptual framework based on a political ecology approach to examine ecotourism and sustainable development. It drew from theoretical ideas from the Western literature and previous studies about Thailand, and it is intended to be more integrative and comprehensive than previous ecotourism frameworks because it combines environmental ideas from research on natural resource management with a broad social science perspective. Political ecology helps to understand the complex connections between environment, economy, society, ideology and politics, and it explores the relationships among local actors and between them and relevant external actors. The framework was also developed to be sufficiently broad and flexible to be applied to understanding ecotourism planning and management in different rural areas.This framework was applied and evaluated for three case study rural areas in Chiang Rai province - Rong Bom, Yang Kham Nu and Ruammit villages. The framework was used to explore relations in these villages between the economy and society, politics and administration, practices and ideologies of sustainable development, and the management of ecotourism activities. These were examined from the perspectives of different actors within the villages and also outside them. Qualitative methods were adopted and relevant primary data were collected through semi-structured interviews, document analysis and fieldwork observation. The collected data were analyzed, interpreted and reported in the study using a thematic analysis method which drew on the study's conceptual framework.The research findings focused on relations between local social relations and sustainability, the ideologies of sustainability, and the local practices of ecotourism planning and management and sustainability. It was found, for example, that in villages where there was more cultural and society homogeneity the villagers were better placed to manage ecotourism and to promote more sustainable forms of development. It was also evident that in two of the villages there was a strong focus on environmental conservation in their activities, and this has subsequently attracted tourists to see their conservation practices and community forest work. In one of the villages commercial ecotourism led to environmental degradation, and it was then that conservation concerns were given more prominence. The village leaders were also seen to have an influential role, encouraged by Thai culture which accords respect and deference to people with higher social status. This had negative repercussions for ecotourism planning as villagers often had limited understanding of their potential for participation in ecotourism policy-making. It may also have encouraged a situation where local people often received less benefit from ecotourism than did external tour operators and where external government policies for ecotourism focused on economic returns rather than community development.The study concludes with an evaluation of the value of the conceptual framework for research on ecotourism planning, including consideration of its potential for use in other contexts and geographical areas.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2009.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 01 May 2018 15:36
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19466

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