Tourist Perspectives on Current and Future Sustainability of Island Tourism in Thailand

Authors: Shelly Selivanov*, University of Victoria, Philip Dearden, University of Victoria , Rick Rollins, University of Victoria
Topics: Tourism Geography, Asia, Sustainability Science
Keywords: Tourism, Southeast Asia, Sustainability, Islands
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8216, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines sustainable tourism planning through case studies of three islands in Thailand: Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao. The islands are part of the same archipelago but have different tourist attractions, levels of tourism development, markets, and levels of current and potential future sustainability. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has stated that Koh Phangan should be a role-model for sustainable tourism planning; however, there is concern that instead it will become over-developed like many other islands in Thailand. The study objectives were to determine the current status of tourism as perceived by tourists, assess differences across the archipelago and identify the optimal future scenarios for sustainable tourism on Koh Phangan as defined by visitors. Results of 1261 structured questionnaires show that tourists prefer a “green scenario” for the future of Koh Phangan with small-scale tourism and focused efforts to implement sustainable community-based tourism and limit tourism growth. Tourists prefer ferry access rather than an airport and to work on existing challenges such as cleanliness, conservation education, marine life and environments, learning about local cultures, and prices. Surprisingly, the only island with an airport was the one where accessibility to the island was an area of concern. Less developed islands attract individuals motivated by environmental factors whereas more developed and “modern” destinations attract visitors based on social factors, suggesting that managers should provide various experiences throughout these islands instead of the standardized “mass tourism” settings that often prove the default for island tourism.

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