Tourism in Thailand

Growth, diversification and political upheaval

Authored by: Nick Kontogeorgopoulos

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Asia

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784581
eBook ISBN: 9781315768250
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665892

10.4324/9781315768250.ch11

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Abstract

In the span of just a few decades, Thailand has emerged as a major international tourism destination. Steady growth has characterized the tourism industry in Thailand since at least the 1960s when its cooperation with the United States during the Vietnam War led to foreign investment, improved infrastructure, and exposure to an international audience. In the mid-1980s, as Thailand entered a period of rapid economic transformation, its tourism industry began to undergo a “touristic transition” (Cohen 2001). In particular, like many other once remote destinations that become affordable and accessible to mass tourists, Thailand experienced a change in the motivation, composition, and distribution of international tourists. Moreover, as the pre-existing natural attractions of Thailand, including cultural and historical sites, inevitably changed in response to rising tourist demand and visitation, ‘new, contrived attractions [were] created to enhance the attractiveness of the destination and to deflect tourists from the declining natural attractions, or even to substitute for the latter’ (Cohen 2001: 155). This touristic transition towards mass tourism and the creation or modification of original events and sites has continued since the mid-1980s, and has accelerated at an even great pace in the past few years; the explosive growth of international tourism since 2009 in particular has now made Thailand a top-ten global destination.

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