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Paradise lost - Assessment

Paradise lost

Paradise lost - Culture

This lesson looks at the social effects of tourism in Thailand and some of the ethical issues and responsibilities associated with visiting another country and culture.

Key question

  • What are some of the social costs of tourism?

Key concepts

  • Interdependence
  • Environmental interaction and sustainable development
  • Cultural understanding and Diversity

What are some of the social costs of tourism?

Many travel companies now advise tourists how to behave in different cultures but local people have to put up with the disruption that tourists may bring and any negative impact on their culture. Despite tourism bringing in money and contributing to a country's GDP, it is often local people who are the subjects in or part of the ‘attraction', that see little of money that tourists pay for a trip or a holiday. But things are changing. There are more opportunities to be ethical, sustainable or responsible when travelling which means that tourists that can actually benefit even very poor communities directly.




Street chic or shame?

Take a look at the Thailand etiquette dossier.

Watch the 'Khao San Road slide show', a popular hang-out for tourists in Bangkok.

How might a group of British tourists behave that others might see as wrong and inappropriate?

How should tourists dress and behave when they are guests in Thailand?

Read this 'Blog entry from a resident of Bangkok' to find out what a Thai person thinks.

Culture clash or culture match?

Outside one of the many McDonalds outlets in Bangkok, Ronald McDonald's hands are making a wai, a respectful greeting in Thailand.

Macdonalds in Thailand

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) such as McDonalds are tailoring their products for local markets. This is of growing interest to geographers and there is even a name for it, glocalisation.



Vote with your feet: Should George visit a Kayan village?

George is staying in Mae Hong Son, northwest Thailand. He is keen to learn more about the hill tribe peoples that live in the region, especially a group called the Kayan.

Seventy Kayan families live in three villages around Mae Hong Son after they fled their war-torn homeland in neighbouring Burma (Myanmar) twenty years ago.

Kayan traditions stretch back centuries. One of them is a major tourist attraction in Mae Hong Son: Their long neck women. From a young age, Kayan women add brass rings around their necks that gradually make them longer.

Kayan woman

© S.Rang-Klan -UNEP/Still Pictures

Should George visit a Kayan village?

Read the Newspaper article about Kayan then vote with your feet:

Stand nearest to the statement that is closest to your own view of the issue.

Be prepared to justify your decision.

Teachers Tip: Download the What should George do? statements and print and place in different locations in the classroom

  1. 'George should definitely keep away from a Kayan village. The way Kayan women are treated is like modern day slavery.'
  2. 'George should ask the tour operator first before he visits a Kayan village. He needs to be sure that if he does visit it is the Kayan women that make the most money from his visit. He should also ask first before he takes a picture of someone.'
  3. 'George should go on his own, not with a tour operator and perhaps stay in the village rather than a big hotel in town. That way he can spend longer there and learn about the Kayan way of life from them, rather than a tour guide. He can also make sure any money he spends goes straight to the Kayan people.'
  4. 'George should visit a Kayan village with the tour group. The Kayan people are much better off than if tourists like him stay away because they bring money to the village.'



Imagine Thai tourists have come to visit your neighbourhood to take photos of people living there.

  • What would they photograph?
  • How would you feel about it?
  • What rules should people stick to when they are taking photographs?

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