Impact of International Backpackers on the Host Society: A Case Study of Backpackers in Pai, North Thailand

Ketwadee Buddhabhumbhitak (2008). Impact of International Backpackers on the Host Society: A Case Study of Backpackers in Pai, North Thailand PhD Thesis, School of Tourism, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ketwadee Buddhabhumbhitak
Thesis Title Impact of International Backpackers on the Host Society: A Case Study of Backpackers in Pai, North Thailand
School, Centre or Institute School of Tourism
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2008-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Slaughter, Lee-Jaye
Assoc. Prof. Craig-Smith, Steve
Dr. Whitford, Michelle
Total pages 339 pages
Total colour pages 5 pages
Total black and white pages 334 pages
Subjects 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Formatted abstract
In the past few decades backpacker tourism has become a popular form of tourism, as is evident
with the development of backpacker specific establishments across the globe. As backpacker
tourism has grown it has become a topic of research at industry, government and academic levels.
Initially much of this research focused on the economic benefit of backpacker tourism, but more
recent research has acknowledged that little is currently known about the impacts backpacker
tourism has on the environment and the host society. It is this latter issue that is of interest in this
The basis of this thesis is the claim in the literature that backpacker tourism is moving from a noninstitutionalised
activity to an institutionalised activity, and that backpacker impacts are changing
accordingly. However, this has not been tested empirically and it is not in keeping with the
literature regarding the backpacker’s desire to immerse themselves in the host society. It is this
inconsistency in the literature that is explored in this thesis.
The research was conducted in three steps. Firstly, an extensive literature review was undertaken to
determine what is known about backpackers, particularly in relation to their motivations for travel
and how this may impact on their behaviour in the host destination. The literature on the sociocultural
impacts of mass tourism was also reviewed to determine the potential positive and negative
impacts that backpacker tourism may have on a host society or culture. Secondly, in-depth
interviews were undertaken with 30 international backpackers staying in Pai, Thailand and 30
residents of Pai. This destination was considered appropriate for a case study because of its
relatively new inclusion on the backpacker trail. Thirdly, the data collected was analysed using
content analysis and discussed in relation to the literature.It was found that there is a discrepancy between backpackers’ ideology and their actions. While
backpackers claim that they want to immerse in the host society, although this is a less important
motivation for travel than it used to be, their actions do not reflect this ideology. In reality most
backpackers’ actions are ‘self-focused’ rather than ‘host-focused’. Backpackers admitted that this
was the case but both locals and backpackers identified a number of barriers to backpackers being
able to immerse in the host society. An analysis of backpackers’ actions within the host society also
identified both positive and negative impacts that backpackers have on the host society. When
compared with those of mass tourists it was evident that there are similarities, although the impacts
of backpackers are often less pronounced and the host society finds the extent of these acceptable at
present. The discussion culminates in the development of a conceptual framework that explains the
relationships between backpackers’ ideologies and their actions, and the subsequent impacts on the
host society.
Keyword Backpacker, Socio-cultural immersion, Backpacker ideologies, Backpacker actions,
Additional Notes Colored page (According to PDF page) P. 29 P.16 p.316 p.317 p.318 Landscape page(According to PDF page) P. 243

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Created: Fri, 07 Nov 2008, 10:19:22 EST by Ms Ketwadee Buddhabhumbhitak on behalf of Library - Information Access Service