Most of Southeast Asian countries have been promoting tourism as a major component of their development strategies for a few decades. The efforts are supported by beliefs that tourism generates considerable sources of employment for locals; economic growth; income distribution; foreign exchange earnings; and export receipts. Just like Thai trademark rice export, tourism has become a key contributor to the Thai economy. Importance of tourism for Thai economy can be accessed with the help of data provided by national accounts data and Thailand’s Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) (Wattanakuljarus, 2005, p.3). Wattanakuljarus (2005) states that, “On average during 1998-2005, Thai tourism directly and indirectly accounts for 13 % of GDP (665 billion baht), 10 % of employment (3 million jobs), 13 % of exports (417 billion baht), 12 % investment (117 billion baht) and 3%of government budget (13 billion baht)” (p.3).Such huge incorporation of tourism related activities certainly has impact on Thai society in general and some areas in particular. This paper studies the impact of tourism on Thai economy, environment, agriculture, society, culture, and tradition. The information used throughout the paper is generalisable. All of the information used is taken from authentic sources, such as, journals, academic reports, and books. Most of the data is obtained from libraries, either local or digital.
Impacts of Tourism in Thailand Thailand has long pursued its goal of tourism related marketing strategy. The strategy is to boost economy, encourage low, medium, and high cost tourism in all the potential regions of the country. From “Land of Smiles” promotion slogan and other extensive promotional strategies, Thailand has become the more popular and south-after tourist destination from all over the world (Pfotenhauer and Mingsarn, 1994, p.23).Tourist visit Thailand for variety of reasons, the reasons may not be mutually exclusive because they often combine them when planning for the visit. Some of the most common types of tourism in Thailand include: adventure tourism, cultural tourism, disaster tourism, drug tourism, Eco-tourism, family tourism, food tourism, sex tourism, medical tourism, and sports tourism. Adventure Tourism Traditionally, adventure tourists explore Thailand in search of adventure by climbing mountains; trekking for longer time periods; kayaking; and visiting off-beat places far from conventional areas to visit. A comparatively mild form of adventure tourism is “soft adventure tourism” that caters people who want to combine some rough experiences but lesser than regular adventure tourists. They prefer to combine visits to important cities and beautiful beaches. Bird watching is also a kind of adventure tourism (Berger, 2007, p.11). Cultural Tourism Cultural tourists are keen to investigate and get information about the cultures, importance, and history of the places they visit. They usually focus on famous cathedrals; historical museum; symphony halls; opera houses; and similar attractions (Berger, 2007, p.11). Disaster Tourism Some tourists prefer visiting the places of disaster of a kind or another. They observe places for knowing what happened; how it affected people and environment there; and how people there are coping with the disaster. They “participate in history” by experiencing such places through visit. For instance, after December 2004’ tsunami, some tourists packed bags for visiting affected places (Berger, 2007, pp.11-12). Drug Tourism The tourists visit places where they can access drugs easily and without any restriction. They visit Thailand because they can’