Resource Two

Tourist Images of Asia: Thailand

We can learn a lot about tourist development by looking at the images through which destinations are marketed. The following descriptions of a tourist destination in Asia are typical of those produced for the tourism market. In reading the material, consider what it shows about the image of Asia as a tourist destination.

Bangkok - The City of Angels

Bangkok beautifully illustrates Thailand's contrasts. Surrounded by the roar of the city, saffron robed monks meditate peacefully in temple courtyards. At night the temple spires on the Chao Phya River glisten in floodlight while the streets flash with neon. Parts of the city offer a night-life of dubious reputation. Bars, discos, cabarets and the ubiquitous 'massage parlours' all vie for attention. Only a short distance away, graceful dancers will entertain you with a centuries-old repertoire.

It appears that everything is on sale everywhere - from high-rise department stores to market stalls, pavement sellers to sampans plying their trade on the canals that thread the city. The beautiful Thai silk for sale is genuine but the $15 'Rolex' watch is not. In Bangkok the contrasts and contradictions of Thai life are brought home to the traveller in vivid colour. Our outstanding tours will introduce you to the city and its surrounding attractions. Tours to the city's temples and Grand Palace, to the floating markets, the delightful Rose Garden Resort and the infamous River Kwai.

The Beautiful North

North from Bangkok you can experience the legendary beauty of the mountains, where Thailand's fascinating hill tribes live out their ancient cultures. Due to their isolation, these people have kept their customs, dialects and dances. Dotted with mist-covered mountain ranges, this is also an area to go trekking and literally get off the beaten track. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai offer fine accommodation from which to tour the area.

Thailand's Romantic Islands

If tropical islands are your thing then head for idyllic Phuket. This picturesque island is rapidly becoming one of Thailand's most popular destinations. Imagine enjoying the cool breezes off the Andaman Sea as you relax with a cool drink after a heavy day of swimming, sunbaking and beach massages. Or setting off for the day to nearby Pee Pee or Phang Nga islands.

Alternatively you can dine at the beach-front restaurants on the delightful island of Koh Samui across the peninsula in the Gulf of Siam. These islands, with their mix of perfect beaches, charming people and first class accommodation, are natural settings for restful, romantic holidays.

What's Cooking?

Western style menus are common in the tourist areas and international hotels, but while you're in Thailand you mustn't miss the local cuisine. Building on the traditions of India and China, Thailand has blended a unique style. In the south the speciality is seafood whilst in the north sticky rice dishes are staple dishes. However be warned. Thai curries can be excruciatingly hot to the Western palate, though, if you avoid the fiery sauces, you will be rewarded with a varied and subtle style of cooking that uses the freshest of ingredients.


Games People Play

If you enjoy a game of golf, a tennis work-out or a flutter on the horses, you will be delighted by a trip to Thailand. Watersport enthusiasts will find excellent facilities at the seaside resort of Pattaya or the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui. Thailand's golf courses are numerous - there are ten 18-hole courses in Bangkok alone; and you can enjoy a day at the races at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club or the Royal Turf Club. Be a little adventurous and see a bout of Thai boxing. Essentially a martial art but also a spectator sport, Thai boxing is a brutal but fascinating spectacle. Hands, elbows, shoulders, feet and knees are used to the accompaniment of traditional music. Sword fighting is another form of self defence that has, due to its high degree of concentration and skill, become an entertaining spectator sport.

Festivals for All Occasions

Thailand's festivals and celebrations are usually very noisy and always extremely friendly. The Thai New Year is celebrated with religious pilgrimages, beauty parades, dancing and good-natured water throwing. The celebrations continue throughout the year and for the King's birthday in December the whole city is decorated in his honour. If you enjoy colour and spectacle then try to time your visit to coincide with one of these intoxicating and memorable celebrations.


1. The Description

§  What aspects of the places are highlighted?

§  What have the writers assumed the tourists want?

§  What kind of person is this implied tourist?

§  How successfully does the material stimulate your interest? How does it do this?

§  Are there things you might want to do in these places which are not mentioned? If so, why are they omitted?

2. Images

§  What is the dominant image of the place? Is it a narrow stereotype or does it reflect the variety of life in these destinations?

§  What images of the people are presented? How well would they recognise themselves in the material?

§  Does the image in any way enhance or demean their standing as people?

3. The Effect of Images

§  How would this image feed back into the construction of the environment and life in these places?

§  What kind of environment would the realisation of the images create?

§  What problems might arise from the construction of it?

§  What impact would the provision of these images have on the life and work of the people?