[ Bridge ]

Bridging the Gap Between Intellectual Excellence and Civic Initiatives

[Think Tank image]

Think Tank:(n).

  1. A forum to develop possible solutions for current, environmental issues.
  2. A multidisciplinary discussion series hosted by the CEU NGO.
  3. See below for details on the Think Tank involving students, staff and faculty from
    Environmental Science and Economics Departments!

Nature for Sale: Investigating Impacts of Tourism in Thailand

 [ poster ] Case Study:The government of Thailand attracts increasing amounts of tourists to Thailand each year while encouraging foreign investment in hotel, golf, and attractions development. Local people have lost much of their access to what used to be public beaches, roads and water resources. New hotels are not held accountable for collecting and processing their garbage and sewerage, which is too frequently dumped directly into lagoons.

Emerging groups of concerned Thai citizens claim that government officials, foreign investors, and tourists:

    (a) are destroying the Thai environment without regard for long-term use
    (b) have denied local people a role in decision-making and
    (c) enjoy the new sources of wealth, while locals are left with pollution and increasingly restricted access to resources they have traditionally enjoyed.
Among the most severe environmental threats is from the development of large, unregulated hotels, access roads, and related facilities in the middle of nature reserves. While local people do not necessarily want to see a halt to foreign investment in Thailand, they seek greater accountability from government officials, foreign investors and tourists. The controversy over the fate of nature reserves may prove to be the test of emerging NGOs' organizational skills and ability to impact national development policy.

What Can Be Done? On 11 February 1999, Think Tank participants agreed that the current trend of negligently consuming natural resources and lack of proper consideration and compensation of locals needs to be addressed. Economists were skeptical of each of the following problems' significance and largely thought that education and laws enforcing proper compensation could adequately address the situation. The group as a whole identified the following Obstacles to Change and Possible Solutions to the current situation in Thailand:

Obstacle to Change

Possible Solutions

1. Greed / disinterest of impacts by government,
foreign investors and tourists
1. Allow Thai NGOs to raise awareness of environmental
and social problems and solutions
2. Lack of long-term vision / lack of resource
2. Use Internet and media to force foreign
investors to develop sound waste management
policies; offer pollution credits trading
3. Lack of economic incentive for companies
and government to change
3. Demonstrate that better management of
environmental resources leads to greater profits
4. Absence of government regulations, no
accountability for decisions
4. Provide local Thais with shares in profit by
approximating wages and luxury costs to developed-
nation standards, providing tax benefits, increased
social services, etc.
5. Poor education of locals 5. Share experience from other southeast asian
countries on developing broader public participation
when siting and regulating new development
6. Non-unified goals among Thais
about development; how to integrate traditions
and access to commercialism
7. Lack of public participation experience
8. Speed of changes

Bridge Project


Maintained by: ECOLOGIA

Last modified by: Shannon Simrell on April 10, 1999