Destination Management of Small Islands: The Case of Koh Mak


This is the paper that I am going to present in Durban next weekend (I will have some other duties too):

Walsh, John, “Destination Management of Small Islands: The Case of Koh Mak,” paper to be presented at the 3rd International Conference on Economics and Social Sciences (Durban: June 21st-22nd, 2014).


Koh Mak is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand that is usually visited by tourists as part of a multi-destination tour. It differentiates itself from its neighbours by being positioned as a quiet, family-based location that utilizes a low-carbon strategy. However, it is not currently clear how effective this strategy is. Islands tend to be successful in terms of destination management when they have a diversified economy and some genuine social capital or relations with which visitors can establish a relationship. This is not evidently true for Koh Mak but it might be true if the island can be considered part of a multi-island cluster. This paper uses qualitative research to explore the opinions of tourists and long-stay residents about their experiences on the island and then tests whether existing models of island tourism are borne out in this case. It is found that the current positioning is somewhat contradictory and inevitably limited in time because increasing numbers of tourists will serve to damage and then destroy those attributes which are being promoted.

Keywords: destination management, islands, Thailand, tourism


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