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The Temporal Relationship between Mass Tourism and Alternative Tourism in Southern Thailand

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The temporal relationship between mass tourism and alternative tourism has received little attention in the tourism literature. This article seeks to address this gap by exploring how the emergence of "soft ecotourism" in Phuket, southern Thailand's preeminent resort destination, challenges the notion that alternative tourism can only precede but never follow the establishment of mass tourism. Based on survey and interview data collected over a 1-year span, this article argues that while Phuket's tourism growth over the past several decades does confirm existing models of the movement from alternative to mass tourism, the activities of sea kayaking operators also illustrate that mass tourism and alternative tourism can coexist at the same time and in the same destination. Further, certain syncretic or hybrid forms of alternative tourism, such as soft ecotourism, may serve as one of the many reasons for the continuing growth of tourism in Phuket, in spite of natural disasters, national political instability, and ample evidence of unsustainable development.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.

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