I forgot to mention before that I have been interviewed for a column in the October 2013 issue of Tourism Unbound – interviewed by daughter Alice Walsh.
I spoke about my experiences in Chiang Khan and Nan that I have written about previously. I was reminded about this because I have just been asked to write an article for the magazine Souvenir, which is going to be published and presented at the marketing conference in Noida I have been invited to attend next month.
I am back now from speaking at the second tourism development workshop organized by the Institute for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Development (ISMED) and the Department of Tourism, managed by PhD candidate K Thanan Apivantanaporn. This one was held at Chiang Khan in the north-east of Thailand.
Chiang Khan has achieved some success in tourism through its walking street (as above) and the River Mekong. This is currently the low season for the town – most people want to go in what passes for winter here when it is more convenient to hang around outside – so many shops and businesses were not open and many were building or refurbishing new ventures. It is said that much of the capital for this comes from other parts of the country so there is a need to find ways to ensure that more tourism money remains in the place where it is generated. The walking street is protected by regulations and it remains to date a significant place different from other parts of the town and other parts of Thailand.
One particular concern that people have is not to become like Pai, which is a backpacker venue that has now apparently degenerated into something of a tourist trap which no one really enjoys. Its authenticity as a location has been lost.
The second attraction is the Mekong (above is the view from the hotel restaurant - the view is better than the hotel). The river is very picturesque, of course and there is an adjacent ferry port.
The other side of the river is Laos but I did not see anyone wanting to cross. Unlike in Nan, there were plenty of places to walk along the river bank and more is being built.
This gives people a chance to walk and to interact with each other and also makes more attractive the homestay and guest houses located along all of this stretch shown above. There are other attractions too (yes, the usual wats as well) including an orchid garden, horses, fishing lake and so on. The only real problem with Chiang Khan is that it is still a little remote – we flew to Loei (one flight per day with Nok Air) and then had a minibus for the rest of the way.
Announcing: Apivantanaporn, Thanan and John Walsh, “The
Experience Economy in Thai Hotels and Resort Clusters: The Role of Authentic
Food,” Acta Universitatus Danubius Oeconomica, Vol.9, No.3 (June, 2013),
pp.140-52, available at: http://journals.univ-danubius.ro/index.php/oeconomica/article/view/1762/1606.
Although hotels and other tourist institutions in Thailand have been making some sporadic attempts to incorporate specifically Thai food and beverage (F&B) elements into their overall product offering, this has rarely been attempted in a thoughtful and systematic manner. This is despite the importance of F&B in determining overall levels of customer satisfaction and the recent importance attached to incorporating ‘Thainess’ into the hotel and tourism industry nationwide. It is, therefore, rather surprising that little if any sustained effort has been made to define authenticity with respect to Thai food (bearing in mind also regional variations) or to incorporate certificates of quality to establishments providing such authentic dishes. This paper draws on qualitative research and personal observation undertaken in a wide range of Thai hotels with a view to identifying emergent value-adding clusters in the domestic hospitality sector. It describes and categorizes the uses of Thai F&B currently and identifies shortcomings in industry vision, which leads to recommendations for both hotel and resort managers and also to those responsible for national level tourism development efforts. The paper also recognizes the problematic nature of the concepts of ‘authenticity’ in this context and attempts to reconcile differing conceptions.
Our paper “The Experience Economy in Thai Hotels and Resort
Clusters: The Role of Authentic Food” has been accepted for publication by Acta Universitatis Danubius Oeconomica and will appear in No.3, 2013 at the end of June. Here is the abstract (in the structured format required):
The Experience Economy in Thai Hotels and Resort Clusters: The Role of Authentic Food
Thanan Apivantanaporn & John Walsh
Objectives: This paper explores the relevance of authentic Thai food in contributing to the experience economy in Thai hotels and resort clusters.
Prior Work: Although hotels and other tourist institutions in Thailand have been making some sporadic attempts to incorporate specifically Thai food and beverage (F&B) elements into their overall product offering, this has rarely been attempted in a thoughtful and systematic manner, despite the importance of F&B in determining overall levels of customer satisfaction and the importance attached to incorporating ‘Thainess’ into the hotel and tourism industry.
Approach: This paper draws on qualitative research and personal observation undertaken in a wide range of Thai hotels with a view to identifying emergent value-adding clusters in the domestic hospitality sector.
Results: The paper describes and categorizes the uses of Thai F&B currently and identifies shortcomings in industry vision, which leads to recommendations for both hotel and resort managers and also to those responsible for national level tourism development efforts.
Implications: The paper also recognizes the problematic nature of the concepts of ‘authenticity’ in this context and attempts to reconcile differing conceptions.
Value: The paper contributes to improving the quality and value of Thai hotels in the larger tourism industry.
Keywords: hospitality, Thailand, tourism
JEL Classifications: L83, M31
Announcing: Thitthongkam, Thavorn and John Walsh, “The Needs for Language Skills Training for Tour Company Staff in the Thailand Tourism Industry: Managerial Perspectives,” KKU Research Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (Business and Economics), Vol.10, No.1 (January-June, 2011), pp.140-59.
This study investigates the perspectives of tourism managers concerning the needs for language skills training for tour company staff in the Thailand tourism industry and to study the problems of tour companies with respect to language skills training. In-depth, face-to-face and telephone qualitative interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 30 tour-company managers. The sample consisted of randomly-chosen tour companies based in Bangkokand listed in the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) database. A semi-structured interview form was created as a research instrument by the researchers. The study was supplemented by additional interviews with managers of language schools and relevant officials at the TAT, together with analysis of existing secondary data sources including books, journals and online databases. The study shows that organizations should cooperate with each other so as to improve the quality of services to meet tourists’ expectations and levels of satisfaction and, also, that language skills training helps improve the quality of services overall.
Keywords: Language training, Tourism companies, Tourism industry, Tourist satisfaction, Quality of service
It is probably available online as well but I cannot access the site at the moment.
Announcing: Maung, Myat Su Yin and John Walsh, “Restoring the Image of a Tourism Destination in Crisis: the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Strategic Crisis Management Strategies and Destination Marketing Approaches in Responding to Political Crises, 2008-9,” NIDA Development Journal, Vol.51, No.2 (July, 2011), pp.157-88, available at: http://journal.nida.ac.th/journal/attachments/55_Myat%20Su%20Yin.pdf.
Despite the very positive prospects for long-term growth, 2008 and 2009 were difficult years for the Thai tourism industry due to local political upheavals, the global financial crisis and the ongoing H1N1 pandemic. This research study analyzes the strategies employed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in its effort to restore the image of Thailand as a tourist destination during and after the human induced crises. The strategies were classified as crisis communication strategies and integrated destination marketing strategies, and the effectiveness of these strategies were further analyzed from a statistical perspective. Finally, TAT’s strategies were analyzed using Mintzberg’s model of strategy in terms of deliberate and emergent strategies. The statistical findings indicated that TAT’s strategies were effective to some degree, as the number of tourist arrivals did not significantly decrease and regained momentum soon after the crises. Consequently, the identified crisis communication strategies adopted by the TAT at the pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis stages can be regarded as effective. Indeed, the TAT has turned crisis into opportunity through the use of discourse in fostering renewal. By plotting TAT’s strategies with respect to Mintzberg’s taxonomy, it becomes clear that the TAT identified unrealized and emergent strategies as most appropriate and used them to accelerate the revitalization of its situation.
Keyword: Destination Management, Destination Restoration, Crisis Management in Tourism
Announcing: Walsh, John, “Es bleibt alles beim Alten – Tourismus und menschenwürdige Arbeit,” Südostasien, Jg.27, No.1 (2011), pp.31-3.
Available in all good book shops and so forth (and also here).
Announcing: Thitthongkam, Thavorn and John Walsh, “Tourism Education at the Tertiary Level and Competitive Advantage: A Comparison between Thailand and Malaysia,” Journal of Education and Vocational Research, Vol.1, No.1 (April, 2011), pp.26-35, available at: http://www.ifrnd.org/JEVR/1(1)%20Apr%202011/Tourism%20Education_at%20the%20Tertiary%20Level.pdf.
Language plays an imperative role in business as a means and a source of power. It is particularly important in the tourism industry when international customers may be unable to communicate directly with service providers in the receiving country, and this has a direct effect on the level of satisfaction that they enjoy during their experience. To address this issue, countries attempt to various degrees to manage their labour markets so as to produce a number of graduates from secondary and tertiary level educational institutions commensurate with the demand from the sector. However, this is quite a young industry at the global level, and it is not clear to what extent the number and quality of such graduates with international language ability will be required. This paper studies the comparative extent of such education at the tertiary level of individuals in both Thailand and Malaysia. It aims to compare the number and variety of people being trained in the tourism and hospitality industry and the extent to which languages are being taught. Results show that there is something of a disconnection between the languages provided and the languages that tourists desire in terms of their mother tongue. Those tourists who can speak English or Chinese may receive service support in those languages, while those who cannot may be disappointed.
Keywords: Tourism education, competitiveness, Language, Tourism in Thailand, Tourism in Malaysia
Congratulations to Dr Thavorn Thitthongkam, who was recently awarded his PhD here at Shinawatra University for a thesis entitled: “A Study of Language Roles in Thai Tourism Industry Competitiveness.”
This study aimed to study the language roles in Thai tourism industry competitiveness, to determine the most important language role for the Thai tourism industry, and to investigate how Thai tourism product suppliers and marketers establish and maintain competitiveness to help keep Thailand a preferred tourist destination for international tourists in terms of the use of language roles. A qualitative method was adopted for this study. Purposely, this study utilised in-depth webcam interviewing techniques with a 42-group-case of international tourists chosen purely on the basis of convenience, in-depth face-to-face interviewing with a 30-group-case of inbound tour company managers selected on a random basis technique, and in-depth face-to-face interviews with a 32-group-case of tourism department heads, who were identified using a snowball technique were employed. Three sets of interview guidelines in English were created as a research tool by the researcher. The data were analysed using a combination of hermeneutical analysis, content analysis, and discourse analysis. The results of the study revealed that language plays diverse roles in Thai tourism industry competitiveness. The most important language role in Thai tourism industry competitiveness is for communication. Effective communication leads to better understanding among tourism people and the international tourists and motivates repurchase by international tourists. Establishing competitiveness to help Thailand remain a preferred tourist destination for international tourists is a key role for language. Language can be used for many purposes. It is adjusted according to different visions. Well-designed curricula for tourism education should be created. Based on the research findings, the need for diversity training in foreign languages and their roles should be focused on and the implications considered in depth. The need for greater collaboration and partnership between tourism organisations and tourism education institutions in preparing the workforce to meet the needs of the tourism industry is evident. This includes developing tourism education curricula on a continuous basis.
Keywords: language, tourism, language roles, Thai tourism industry, competitiveness
Thitthongkam, Thavorn, John Walsh and Chanchai Bunchapttanasakda, “The Roles of Foreign Languages in Business Administration,” Journal of Management Research, Vol.3, No.1 (2011), pp.1-15, available at: http://www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/jmr/article/view/509/393.
This paper explores the roles of foreign language in business administration, investigates managerial perspectives and studies the problems of foreign language usage in communication to discover modes of developing employee’s foreign language ability and to investigate the students’ opinions concerning the roles of foreign languages in business administration in Thailand. In-depth, face-to-face qualitative interviews were employed. The results indicated that foreign languages play significant roles in import and export companies. In the managers’ point of view, foreign languages are very important to their businesses, especially for communication with customers, other companies and suppliers. The problems in some companies might happen because of differences between customers. The problems also come from both senders and receivers who lack knowledge of foreign languages. The informants stated that organizations should invite professional trainers to help improve foreign language skills in vocabulary and conversation in particular.