Tourism in Southeast Asia

  • ID: 1556282
  • Book
  • Region: Asia
  • 368 Pages
  • Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS Press)
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Tourism is a long established economic activity in Southeast Asia, dating back to the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though mass tourism is a relatively recent phenomenon that largely began in the 1970s. The industry grew slowly for decades, but by the 1980s East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific were experiencing the most rapid growth in regional tourism arrivals in the world, averaging 9.2 per cent per annum.

Such was the success of the Visit Thailand Year campaign of 1987 that the various ASEAN government tourism boards agreed to combine forces to promote each successive country in turn, culminating in Visit ASEAN in 1992. By the early 1990s tourist arrivals were predicted to rise at 7 per cent annually until the end of the decade, as compared with a global average of around 4.5 per cent (World Tourism Organization, 1990). Such was the growth in countries like Singapore that local analysts worried that the labour requirements for the hotel, wholesale and retail sectors would not be met and would need to be replenished by migrant workers.

By the 1990s tourism had become one of Southeast Asia’s foremost industries and, though the region was receiving less than 11 per cent of the world’s international tourists, it was experiencing a boom (Hitchcock, King and Parnwell, 1993: 1). In Thailand it was the leading source of foreign exchange and in the Philippines it was the second largest industry. In Singapore tourism had become the third largest source of foreign exchange. Growth was fuelled by international arrivals, but there was also growing domestic demand. Despite this strong growth trajectory, there have been crises that have impacted on tourist arrivals.

The First Gulf War of 1991, for example, coincided with Visit Indonesia Year and dented visitor numbers, though there was a recovery later in the year (Hitchcock, King and Parnwell, 1993: 1) and it looked for a while as if nothing could stop this upward trend. The monetary crisis, however, that followed the flotation of the Thai baht on 2 July 1997 dashed the optimism of the region’s tourism industry. Among the countries affected, Indonesia’s economic malaise was the most acute, with a contraction of GDP of -15.9 per cent in 1998, as compared with Malaysia’s -5.5 per cent (The Economist, 1998).

The recession continued into 1999, though there was improvement towards the end of the year with growth in Indonesia rising to 0.5 per cent, and Malaysia Introduction bouncing back to 4.1 per cent (The Economist, 26.11.1999; see also Prideaux, 1999;Lew, 1999). The economic turmoil had an immediate and catastrophic effect on visitor arrivals, which in turn altered the character of the tourism industry in both countries. Generous supplies of capital had fuelled a hotel building boom and, though the effects were most visible in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Surabaya, there had also been an upsurge in resort development.

The downturn in demand had an impact on hotel trade worldwide as Asian owners responded to the crisis by selling assets in the peaking markets of North America, Europe and Australia. Political instability combined with the spread of the financial crisis to Korea and Japan – important sources of in-bound tourists – brought about a sharp decline in visitor arrivals. Indonesia’s international tourism receipts fell by 24 per cent in the first half of 1998, and continued to decline the following year (Travel and Tourism Intelligence, 1998: 90).

Year-on-year growth in income from tourism in Thailand declined from 31.4 per cent in 1995 and 15 per cent in 1996 to just 0.6 per cent in 1997, even though tourist numbers increased from 7.19 to 7.22 million from 1996 to 1997, such was the impact of the devaluation of the baht and the level of discounting to maintain tourist flows (Mingsarn, 2002).

So severe was the recession that Malaysian Airlines, along with Philippine Airways and Thai Airways, deferred deliveries of aircraft, mostly the long haul 747–400s and 777s that provide a lifeline for the region’s tourism industry. Interestingly, the onset of the Asian financial crisis reinforced the need to see the region in its own terms since the cost-cutting led to job losses and the phasing out of expatriate employees, particularly senior managers earning dollarbased salaries, and the increasing localization of its management. Thailand resorted to crisis marketing to persuade visitors to return and to earn foreign currency to help alleviate the crisis (Henderson, 1999).

The financial crisis was the first of a series of shocks that Southeast Asia’s tourism industry was to experience around the turn of the millennium.

Key points

- A timely and up-to-date exploration of the state of tourism development in SE Asia.

- Examines the challenges facing SE Asian tourism at a critical time.

- A key resource for tourism research and education.

Tourism in Southeast Asia provides an up-to-date exploration of the state of tourism development and associated issues in one of the world’s most dynamic tourist destinations. The volume takes a close look at many of the challenges facing Southeast Asian tourism at a critical stage of transition and transformation, and following a recent series of crises and disasters. Building on and advancing the path-breaking Tourism in South-East Asia, produced by the same editors in 1993, this new work adopts a multidisciplinary approach and includes contributions from some of the leading researchers on tourism in Southeast Asia, presenting a number of fresh perspectives.

The volume combines introductory material with an in-depth examination of anthropological writing on Southeast Asian tourism, followed by case studies dealing with issues as diverse as globalization, terrorism, ‘romance tourism’ and ecotourism.
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Tables vi
Figures vii
Contributors viii

1. Introduction: Tourism in Southeast Asia Revisited
Michael Hitchcock, Victor King and Michael Parnwell

2. Anthropology and Tourism in Southeast Asia: Comparative Studies, Cultural
Differentiation and Agency
Victor King

3. Indonesian Souvenirs as Micro-Monuments to Globalization and Modernity:
Hybridization, Deterritorialization and Commodification
Kathleen Adams

4. Terrorism and Tourism in Bali and Southeast Asia
I Nyoman Darma Putra and Michael Hitchcock

5. From Kebalian to Ajeg Bali: Tourism and Balinese Identity in the Aftermath of
the Kuta Bombing
Michel Picard

6. Tourism Policy-Making in Southeast Asia: A Twenty-First Century Perspective
Linda Richter

7. The Development of Private Tourism Business Activity in the Transitional
Vietnamese Economy
Jonathan Bennett

8. Tourism in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
David Harrison and Steven Schipani

9. Southeast Asian Tourism from a Japanese Perspective
Shinji Yamashita

10. Cultural and Gender Politics in China–Vietnam Border Tourism
Yuk Wah Chan

11. Romance and Sex Tourism
Heidi Dahles

12. A Political Ecology of Sustainable Tourism in Southeast Asia
Michael Parnwell

13. New Directions in Indonesian Ecotourism
Janet Cochrane
Tourism in Southeast Asia


4.1. Countries of Origin of the Victims of the 2002 Bali Bombings
4.2. Countries of Origin of the Killed Victims of the 2005 Bali Bombings
4.3. Countries of Origin of the Injured Victims of the 2005 Bali Bombings
8.1. International Tourism in Lao PDR
8.2 Concentration of Tourism in Lao PDR, 2005: Selected Indices
8.3. A Summary of the Financial Benefits from Select New Tours Developed by the Mekong Tourism Development Project (March 2005–February 2006)
8.4. A Summary of Financial Benefits at Tourist Destinations Supported by the Mekong Tourism Development Project (March 2005–February 2006)
8.5. Tourist Arrivals in the Lower Mekong Region: Selected Years 10.1. Numbers of Chinese and Vietnamese Tourists in Lao Cai Province (1994–2002)
13.1. Tourism Arrivals to Indonesia 1969–2004
14. Dragon Tourism Revisited: The Sustainability of Tourism Development in Komodo National Park Henning Borchers
15. Is the Beach Party Over? Tourism and the Environment in Small Islands: A Case Study of Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia Mark Hampton and Joanna Hampton
16. Current Issues in Southeast Asian Tourism Michael Hitchcock, Victor King and Michael Parnwell


3.1. Toraja effigies of the ead (tau-tau)
3.2. Doll-sized tourist carvings of Toraja ‘village types’
3.3. Bugis-made lacquered plate with rice husk picture of Toraja tongkonan (ancestral house)
3.4. Bugis-made pins depicting Toraja effigies of the dead (in the style of Peruvian ‘worry dolls’)
8.1. Map of Lao PDR
8.2. Lao National Tourism Administration – ADB Mekong Tourism Development Project (MTDP)
8.3. Organizational structure of the Lao National Tourism Administration
12.1. Schema 1 – Schematic representation of the relative balance of influence in orthodox tourism
12.2. Schema 2 – Schematic representation of the relative balance of influence in alternative tourism
14.1. Komodo National Park
15.1. Map of Southeast Asia, showing the islands of Lombok and Gili Trawangan
15.2. Map showing the location of the coral reef study on Gili Trawangan
15.3. Diagram to show location of the survey plots
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