By Eli Clarke and Tanner Peacock
Thailand is a small, but amazing country. There are a couple things that Thailand is well-known for. First is the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia to never been colonized by Europeans. The people within this country take great pride in this aspect of their lives. Since this country has never been colonized, this means there is a very unique culture that you cannot experience anywhere else in the world.
However, due to this unique culture, Thailand has become a huge tourist destination. Bangkok, with 12.2 million expected visitors in 2017 alone, is the third most visited city in the world (behind London and Paris). With the high amount of visitors, tourism has shaped the country in more ways than one is able to think about. Now, Thailand is seen more as a getaway vacation destination than as a country in most visitors’ eyes. The influence of tourism has been divided up into four main sections: economic, social, environmental, and technological.
Tourism is starting to become the pillar industry of Thailand which means this is their main source of income for the country. According to Knoema, tourists and travel accounted for 20.6% of the total GDP for Thailand. Nine percent of the population is also reportedly to be working in some form of the tourist industry. The Thai people now rely heavily on the high tourist numbers to sustain their economy. Even though the high amount of tourism is create a high number of jobs in their economy, most of the time these workers are paid poorly, have low job security, with a low career status. One good aspect of the tourism, if you want to look at this is a positive aspect, deals with the agriculture workers having a greater job security due to the fact that individuals are paid to supply extra food to accommodate for the high amount of tourist coming into the country.
Workers of Thailand’s tourism industry do not need a lot of knowledge to work their jobs and normally are in jobs where they are doing physical labor (Ex. Washing dishes, cleaning, creating/selling goods). Most of the jobs within the tourism industry are performed by hard labor with very little education needed. In fact, you do not need to know how to read or write to have these jobs which means students are not caring as much to obtain an education. The number of students attended school has been decreasing over the years. By having the tourism economy increase, we are seeing a decrease in education and an increase in physical labor jobs.
Another huge economic impact due to tourism in Thailand is the sex industry. With the increased amount of tourism in Thailand, there has been a steady increase within the sex industry to match the tourism rate. Controlling the sex industry would be very challenging for the Thai Government. Instead of trying to ban the industry to where it gets pushed underground, the government has been pushing the sex workers to use condoms and have been passing out free condoms to support safe sex within the sex industry.
With a rich abundance of attractions in Thailand, from elegant temples to the perfect beaches and even the Thai culture, people are deeply attracted from all over the world to visit this country. There is also a huge drive for young adults to travel the world. Many people want to visit Thailand due to its rich culture and way of life. The people of Thailand are mostly Buddhist and because of their belief it teaches them to be very friendly and non-confrontational, because of their friendly disposition this attracts a lot of tourism.
Tourism can also bring a negative impact to Thailand as well. For example because of a large amount of people visiting each year, there has been an increase of drug sails from locals to tourists, because of this there has also been an increase in crime. Due to the increase of crime there has been a drop in tourism, because many deem Thailand unsafe. Tourism can change the character and culture of the people. Tourism is also destroying the way of life for many locals, because as companies grow they become run by bigger corporations and less by the locals. This makes it hard for the locals to earn a living and then resort to crime and drug sells.
Thailand see over 13 million tourism every year and growing. Although tourism may be a big part of their economy it’s also have some very negative effects on the environment. First of all Thailand lack the infrastructure or the ability to properly dispose of waste. Secondly a lot of tourist and locals are putting their desires first and not worrying about the environment. If Thailand’s natural beauty is not being protected tourist will likely travel elsewhere. Another negative impact is the bad air and water quality, due to the traffic and over urbanization of natural areas.
Through the growth of Thailand as a whole, improved conditions for Thai communities will improve as well as raise the profile of the country which in returns improves the level of services that can be provided. Some other technological advancement has come about through the high number of tourism. With the expansion of tourist wanting to travel beyond just Bangkok, other cities have gained an increased overall wealth which has been able to improve the community as a whole. Thailand has also seen an increased amount of sewage treatment plants as well as improved sewage treatment plants to keep up with the high population of tourists which has positively impacted the bigger cities. Infrastructures have also greatly increased over time due to tourism. Some of the examples include: increased road conditions which allow the locals and tourist to travel between cities much easier, airport improvement which has led to an increased safety in regards to flying, and better building standards which has led to increased safety for the citizens.
However, with all this growing technology, we are starting to see less and less of the true Thai Culture. There is starting to be a greater care for the needs of the tourists instead of the needs of the local citizens. Now, Thailand is starting to create facilities at a fast rate to cope with the high number of visitors. With this speedy growth, visitors are starting to see the areas become more modernize and taking away from the true Thai culture. Visitors are starting to change Thailand to make it more Western due to the high tourism rate in the country.
Tourism has played a huge, irreplaceable role in shaping Thailand to what the country is today. Tourism is both a positive and negative aspect and you truly cannot obtain the good aspects without the bad and vice versa. We just need to make sure that the good and positive impact outweighs the negative impacts to make the country better as a whole. I would never say to not travel to Thailand because it truly is a beautiful country with many great things to learn, but I would ask for you to be aware of your reasoning why you are wanting to travel there or to any country. Think about what you are doing to positively and negatively impact the country you are visiting and to make sure you always leave the country on a positive and not a negative impact.
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