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Rural and Cultural Heritage under threat from Ecotourism

10.06.2008
What type of tourism suits rural geographical settings has been the subject of a study by Titiyawadee Punmanee, a researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester.

Results of the research, which has been conducted through case studies in Thailand by using interviews, focus groups and questionnaires, will be presented to the public at the University on June 26.

The aim of Geotourism is to establish a new type of tourism that incorporates cultural heritage, nature and geology. This will encourage social and economic management, by sustaining, conserving, and improving the positive interaction via multiple stakeholders (government agencies, non-governance agencies, tourists, tourist agencies and local communities).

Titiyawadee commented: “Ecotourism has transformed the concept of environmental tourism, its practices and the incorporation of education from a perspective that aims to minimise the impacts as well as meet the needs of next generation regarding the conservation and preserve areas, especially in those natural landscape ones.”

During her research, she found that there are some aspects where attention needs to be paid within the term; ecotourism – its practical and cultural heritage.

She said: “Geotourism however, has different concerns from ecotourism. It focuses on the positive practices through stakeholders as well as adding more concern about cultural heritage (which has been ignored by ecotourism) that play a key role in each place’s identities and beliefs”.

Titiyawadee shows that Geotourism can be viewed as a new direction that attempts to include every stakeholder, whether this be local government or local communities on the ground, to understand how to make tourism workable within their institutions as well as to outsiders who consume the ‘product’.

“Hopefully, this new type of tourism will help to conserve and preserve the geographical heritage surrounding us and create a balanced tourism that meets the needs of those countries that rely on tourism to bolster their economy as well as meeting environmental and social goals to benefit local people,” she said.

Titiyawadee has been involved with the project of ecotourism through her own personal interest in travelling to somewhere new, especially cultural heritage sites in rural areas. Utilising her bachelor and master degrees related to environment and biology, she has found that most of the institutions in Thailand have paid attention to this area more than cultural, which is significant as well. At the end of the research, she hopes this could make people realise that cultural heritage and natural resources are not different; it shows the identity in its areas as well as the fact they are pristine and could never be replaced once they are destroyed.

The research is being presented to the public at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th June. The Festival of Postgraduate Research introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide ranging audience.

More information about the Festival of Postgraduate Research is available at: www.le.ac.uk/gradschool/festival

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk/gradschool/festival

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