Effects of Tourism on Thailand

By Rylee Adkison and Erin Macinnis

Thailand has become one of the biggest booming areas for tourism lately and all in good reason as thailand is home to amazing beaches, greenery, and fun! Thailand has so much to offer but specific landmarks in thailand have been getting hit harder than others in terms of the rising numbers of tourist populations. There have been some positive and negative effects on some popular thai cities. Tourism can offer countries an economic boost but can have other adverse effects such as impacting the environment and destroying some beautiful landmarks. Some specific places that are being hit the hardest include Koh Tachai, koh phi phi island and the infamous maya bay. (below)

tourist 1

“over tourism” in thailand has been wreaking havoc on the beautiful scenery and ecosystems that the local beaches procure. Some beaches have even closed because the amount of tourists have been exceeding the max population for too long ; maya bay in specific 820 feet long and it sees about five thousand visitors each and every day. Some of the effects this has had on May bay is the “ decimation of entire ecosystems on these islands: Their beaches and waves have become littered with trash, their reefs severely damaged by irresponsible snorkelers and boats (Maya is estimated to have lost 80 percent of its coral cover), and marine life virtually wiped out as a result”. This beach has been a spot for many tourists since the 2000 film “the beach” and as progressed into such a popular spot for tourism that the local thai government had to issue a “ temporary tourist ban” but has denounced that since with closing the beach indefinitely to restore what once was.

tourist 2

Wildlife has also been majorly affected by tourism. Specifically in Chiang Mai, elephant rides are becoming more and more popular. Although these rides are fun for tourists and throw more money into the Thai economy, they are ethically questionable. The elephants are kept in captivity and chained up in between rides. In addition, they are subjected to all kinds of abuse brought on by their mahouts, which are supposed to be the people that care for them. Elephants are supposed to be able to free roam and act as they please, but being used recreationally takes away their ability to do these things.

Another serious issue that has resulted from Thai tourism is the exponential growth of sex work and human trafficking. Although it is beyond the tourist’s control, many people are roped into the industry either voluntarily or involuntarily. According to the UN’s refugee agency in 2013, there were at least three million migrant workers in Thailand. The majority of these workers are involved in the sex industry. While walking through Patpong Market, a popular location for sex workers, you will hear western languages being spoken. You will hear more English and Spanish than Thai and Khmer. Sex trafficking in Thailand is a developing problem and there is little incentive to enforce laws against it.

There are many negative effects of tourism, especially in thailand in the last decade, but there are also many positive effects. Tourism doesn’t only do the obvious of bringing in cash but also benefits the “country’s transport systems, electricity supply and telecommunications.” Tourism can also offer places like thailand an increase in jobs for the locals which will in turn not only bring in money, but will give back to the thai community as a whole. Overall as there are many negative effects of tourism in thailand there can also be positive ones as long as the local government is keeping up with the demand for protection of the most beautiful places there country has to offer.


Tigtag UK. (2019). Tourism in Thailand. [online] Available at:https://www.tigtagworld.co.uk/film/tourism-in-thailand-PRM00784/ [Accessed 10 May 2019].

Editors, C. (2019). 15 Beloved Places Struggling With Overtourism. [online] Condé Nast Traveler. Available at:https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-06-19/barcelona-bhutan-places-that-limit-tourist-numbers [Accessed 10 May 2019].

CNN Travel (2019). Thailand Bay made popular by ‘The Beach’ to remain closed for two more years. [online] Available at:https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/maya-bay-closure-thailand/index.html [Accessed 10 May 2019].

Valenta, K. (2019). The Dark Side of Tourism in Thailand. [online] Oyster.com. Available at: https://www.oyster.com/articles/60615-the-dark-side-of-tourism-in-thailand/ [Accessed 10 May 2019].






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