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A PROPOSED STRATEGIC PLANNING APPROACH FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FOR YALA MUNCIPALITY, THAILAND

by

Leng Bunlong

Examination Committee

Professor Walter Jamieson (Chairperson) Professor A.T.M.Nurul Amin Dr. Rajan K. Gengaje

Asian Institute of Technology

School of Environment Resources and Development Bangkok, Thailand August 2000

Executive Summary I. Background

It is evident the enrichment of cultural background and scenic attractions for tourism potentials of Yala Municipality have not been explored or studied. Most its potentials have not been developed and not known even to people in the region. The major causes of the underdevelopment of tourism in Yala Municipality lie in the absence of a specific tourism development plan. The local authority has neglected to lobby TAT in promoting a market feasibility study of tourism destinations in the municipality as well as linkages to other nearby tourism centers in the region. There is a lack of coordination, roles and responsibilities within the relevant authorized agencies in advancing local tourism industry. This stunted the initiative of the local private sector in developing tourist attractions, which could have a substantial impact on the development of the area itself. Added to this, through an exploration of the literature as well as formal discussion with TAT officials and local civil servants, the impression of the problems in developing tourism destinations of Yala Municipality were due to some major factors as follows: The municipal accessibility to and from other tourist spots or business cities is distance. The insufficiency of tourism infrastructure and facilities in the municipality. Non local handicraft and souvenir development. The Yala municipal authority has enjoyed strong leadership and devoted staff for the past fifteen years. The local leadership, staff commitment and the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Canadian Universities ConsortiumUrban Environmental Management (CUC-UEM), Asian Institute of Technology and Yala Municipality presents a wide base of support and foundation for sustainable [tourism] development for Yala municipality. This research study is the initiative step and should provide the ground for the direction of sustainable tourism development for Yala Municipality and strengthen partnership towards the achievement of the overall goal of municipal sustainable development. There is, thus, a need to review the existing plans, programs, regulations and institutional framework of tourism development and carry out a feasibility study of the conditions of tourism development as well as tourism potential of the area. It is crucial that the enhancement of tourism development guarantees social, cultural and environmental values are appropriately considered. II. Research Objectives The overall goal of the study is to suggest means to develop a sustainable tourism destination in order to attract tourists or visitors to come and stay in Yala Municipality, thereby enhancing the revenue of the local authority and community members. The specific objectives of the study are: 1. To examine the existing tourism development situation and vision of respondents of tourism development. 2. To identify the potential for and constraints to developing Yala Municipality as a tourism destination.

3. To generate and assess alternative scenarios for tourism development. 4. To propose a strategic planning approach for sustainable tourism development. III. Research Findings This research was started with a number of questions, which were used as a background guide for the research literature review, data collection and analyses during the study period. For the case of sustainable tourism development for Yala Municipality, the queries of attitudes, values, interests, expectations and concerns were used to assess the vision of respondents regarding sustainable tourism development for the study area. The vision survey was designed to explore the popular attitudes, values, interests and concerns of respondents (twelve targeted local officials and twenty-two randomly selected community residents) towards sustainable tourism for Yala Municipality and implications of such development for the municipality when strategic actions are undertaken. The vision of these vested participants is most important since they play a critical role in planning, implementing and monitoring the development process. More than this, the community resources belong to them. The vision survey was also taken up to determine the respondents perceptions towards existing and future situation of the municipality. What is interesting, however, is to find out the opinion of desirable development trend and more understanding of the existing conditions prevalent in the study area. Their responses are used for comparing and contrasting to seek for their critical level of acceptance, support and readiness for tourism development. The survey found that the respondents wanted the development of tourism industry in the area and expressed their positive attitude towards the development. They mainly expected local economic benefits from the industry. However, they seemed to have lack of understanding of all the possible impacts of tourism development. The research thus recommended conducting public awareness campaign if tourism development program is initiated. It is a surprise that though interviewed government officials and community residents have different background, tasks and work responsibilities but the propositions of their responses to the survey were generally similar. The results from the opinion survey of the key informants vision of tourism development of Yala Municipality could be summarized as an indication of the communitys future dream. The municipal potential, limitation, gaps and alternatives of tourism development were discussed and explained on the basis of the tourism situation of the area. The background of information of current tourism situation in the area and surrounding destinations was then gathered and analyzed to determine the opportunities for, threats to, sustainable tourism development of the area. Because the research found that Yala Municipality has less tourism resources and under-developed attractions, market feasibility and cost-benefit evaluation were suggested before the initiation of the development program. The generated development scenarios for assessing the future trend of tourism development were suggested as doingnothing, developing and tying together only the potentials within the municipality and integrating the municipal attractions with tourist spots beyond the municipal boundary. These scenarios requested the municipality to make decision to what level of tourism development of the area the municipality wishes. From the research survey of senior officials and key community development decision-makers, it has shown that the scenario of integrating

potential tourism attractions in the municipality with surrounding tourism attractions is recognized by the majority of them as the post suitable scenario for tourism development of the area. The study then made a suggestion of a strategic planning approach for sustainable tourism development for the municipality. The perception of appropriate strategic planning and roles and responsibilities of vested stakeholders were used as a basic ground to propose this strategic approach. IV. A Proposed Strategic Planning Approach for Sustainable Tourism Development The proposed approach for a strategic planning is divided into two phases (Figure 1). Each phase consists of three stages. The first phase is a preliminary essential step regarding the feasibility evaluation of tourism development in the area after the Tourism Development Board is formed. The second phase is the implementing step of the development program. The municipality may decide not to proceed to the second phase given to the realties of its local political-economic environment. Conducting Tourism Market Research Setting up Tourism Development Board Stage I Stage II Evaluating Demand and Supply Benefits Stage III Phase one Raising Public Awareness Campaign Stage V Initiation of Tourism Development and Planning Program Stage VI
Figure 1: The Flow of Suggested Stages for Sustainable Tourism Development

No Actions Any More

On Going Feasibility

Staff and Skills Training Stage IV Second Phase

The main purpose of the recommended strategic planning approach is to serve as a planning direction for Yala Municipality and TAT for the development of tourism sector in the area. In order to give preliminary idea of the strategic planning approach, the perspectives of recommendations of each stage composed of a timeframe and feasibility, detailed steps, implementing organizations and financial are presented in the sub-sections below. Stage I: The Establishment of Tourism Development Board Giving that the selected tourism development scenario goes beyond the municipal autonomy of which Yala Municipality would be quite impossible to manage it. Moreover, sustainable tourism development requires a multi-disciplinary application of technical, management and financial expertise as well as cooperation and coordination among vested stakeholders to achieve the set goal of the development. For the first stage of the proposed strategic planning approach, Tourism Development Board needs to be set up with its initial role to introducing a tourism development policy of the area. The Board will take also the responsibility for planning, administering, managing and overseeing the development processes are in line with the set goal of sustainable development (Table 1). Meanwhile, technical assistance is inquired from national agencies such as Tourism Authority of Thailand or academic institutions such as AIT and Princess Songkhla University to facilitate the activities of the Board. The Board will be the one to formulate specific sustainable tourism development plans and regulations and designate and coordinate the activities of various government agencies and other associations. The Board members will be drawn from various organizations (Figure 2). The Board should include the stakes of organizations and agencies as follows: 1. Yala municipal Lord Major 2. Director or Deputy-director of Yala Provincial Division of Tourism Development Planning and Policy 3. Office of Regional Development Plan and policy 4. Municipal Department of Environment and Sanitation 5. A Representative of Central Tourism Authority of Thailand 6. Chairman of Yala Hotel Tourism Business Association 7. A Representative of Regional Tour Operators and Tourist Guide Associations 8. A Representative of Private Investors 9. Yala Chamber of Commerce 10. Yala Social-economic Development 11. A Community and Religious Group Leader 12. A Representative of Volunteer Group (comprised of architects group, and resident associations, Bicycle Riders etc.)

Tourism Development Board with Lord Major as Chairman TAT as Technical Advisor Active Staff and Consultants

Provincial Tourism Development Planning and Policy Division as Coordinator

Socialeconomic Development

Municipal Department of Environment and Sanitation Private Investors

Office of Regional Development Plan and policy

Yala Chamber of Commerce

Volunteer Group And Community Representatives

Regional Tourism Business Association

Yala Hotel Tourism Business Association

Figure 2: The Proposed Organizational Structure of the Tourism Development Board

The Tourism Development Board (Figure 2) should act as the advisory and decision-making panel. Its function involves approving development regulations and policy, observing the development of specific tourism development plans, searching for financial support, monitoring and evaluating the development program. The Board, therefore, will not be the one to carry out the development activities. As the Board members roles are to formulate, advising and counseling the development process, a bunch of active staff and consultants of the Board are needed to directly involve with the implementation of the development processes in accordance with their line of divided tasks and responsibilities. The people can be assigned from various departments of the municipality, TAT and freshly recruited from private institutions. A project director who has good knowledge of tourism development and understanding the municipal administration system is needed. Other experience shows that without his kind of assigned position in the Board, there will be nothing occurs because the Board members only give advice and counseling. The director's role is responsible for leadership, day to day communication with other involved agencies and directing staff to perform their tasks and provides direction of the development work process. He is also the one who will advise the Board of what to be done and to negotiate with private sector and other institutions (e.g. hiring somebody to do marketing research). The Board should establish its own financial package. It will use this account to pay its activities. However, it is a hard task to search for financial support from individual organizations. It is therefore recommended for the contribution of stakeholders especially

from Yala Municipality and private sectors before the Board could get financial support from national government (i.e. TAT). However, Yala Municipality needs to bear the expenditure for the initial activities (before and during the Board is established). Afterwards, the consistent meetings among Board members should be held regularly for evaluating the results and following the next step plan. If the next steps could not continue because it would not work out, the Board has to adjust to the real situation. Table 1: Detailed Plan of Stage I
The Steps of Stage I 1. Establishing the Board of Tourism Development which is composed of government agencies, private business organizations, non-profit social foundations and community volunteer groups Producing tourism development policy and regulations for the area with concerns of sustainable development concepts. Dividing tasks and responsibilities among the Board members Implementing Organizations Central TAT-Tourism Development and Planning Division plays a technical supervising role Yala Municipality Tourism Development Board with advice from TAT Tourism Development Board TAT plays a technical supporting role Tourism Development Board Tourism Development Board

Who would pay Yala Municipality

2.

3.

4.

Searching for grants and financial support for Board activities Remarks: Based on Research Findings, 2000.

This stage should take two months or longer depending on the smoothness of the work process. It does not take much time to set up the Board, but it may take more times to write or produce the sustainable tourism development policy and regulations and to distribute tasks and responsibilities among stakeholders. It is recommended that the responsibility for the Board director should be under Yala Municipality and Yala provincial office of governor. The central TAT- office of tourism development planning and policy would play a significant role as technical and advising supervisor. Stage II: Tourism Market Research The second stage describes the significance of tourism marketing or market research as it was realized from the survey. Most the key informants opinion as well as field observation that Yala Municipality does not show if there is obvious tourism market demand of the study area. Therefore, Yala Municipality needs to request tourism market research division of TAT or to hire a private consultant or tourism market expert to study tourism markets and to understand what (local and international) tourists want and need in order to attract them to come to and stay in Yala Municipality. It is not realistic (not a good approach) to start developing the tourism attractions when the feasibility study of market demands has not been done. Therefore, marketing research is necessary to convince the municipality whether if tourism development is feasible to bring prosperity to the local economy.

Table 2: Detailed Plan of Stage II The Steps of Stage II Implementing Organizations


1. Screening existing documents (e.g. at TAT, ESCAP) about current and future tourism market demands in the area and in the region. 2. Conducting surveys with tourists in the regional boundary and neighboring countries provinces if they would like to visit and stay overnight in Yala Municipality, if so what Yala Municipality should have (attractions and products) so that it can entertain/attract them. 3. Conducing surveys with Tour Operators and Tourism Business Association to seek for their cooperation and coordination to include Yala Municipality in their package tours. Remarks: Based on Research Findings, 2000. Tourism marketing expert or Private tourism consultant or TATs Tourism Marketing Division.

Who would pay


Yala Municipality.

This stage is expected to take two months approximately. The first step may take about three weeks and the second and third steps may take about five weeks depending on the smoothness of the process. Supposing this stage was done and resulted in tourism market demands, the evaluating costs and benefits of the tourism demands must proceed. Stage III: Cost-Benefit Evaluation The Tourism Development Board evaluates the feasible impacts, positives and negatives, and costs and outcome of the proposed strategic actions in fulfillment of tourist demands. By subjecting the markets of tourist demand through cost-benefit evaluation the Board is able to derive the costs and consequences that affect the various aspects of the municipality (Table 3). This is viewed as a basis of formulating choices for the municipality regarding the issue whether the integrated development program of potential tourist attractions provides economic benefits for the municipality. Therefore, to be on safe side, it is necessary to evaluate costs and benefits prior to starting the development of the tourism industry in the area. Table 3: Detailed Plan of Stage III The Steps of Stage III Implementing Organizations
1. Identifying what will be the advantages of tourism market demands regarding economic, environment and socio-cultural aspects 2. Estimating the costs or expenditures for the development in accordance to market demands 3. Evaluating the bottom-line of cost and benefits Remarks: Based on Research Findings, 2000. Tourism Development Board

Who would pay


Yala Municipality

This stage is expected not to exceed more than a period of one month. Because most members of the Board know the situation of the city well, the Board can quickly determine maximum benefits of the market demands.

Stage IV: Staff and Skills Training Though tourism industry has been developed many years in many cities in Thailand, but it is new for Yala municipal officials and development decision-makers. Short-term as well as long-term training is thus needed for building municipal staffs capacity and competencies in managing and administering sustainable tourism development projects are necessary before, during, and after implementation of projects or programs (Table 4). TAT or tourism professionals from academic institution (e.g. AIT) should be invited to conduct the municipal staff training. The trainings goal should be to integrate sustainable tourism concept into work practices and to improve the quality of products. The training content should aim at: Integrating environmental, social and cultural issues. Enhancing the status of local staff at all levels as an essential part of the tourism development. Explaining the complex nature of modern tourism. Fostering a sense of pride in the job and care for the destination and community residents. Exploring the positive and negative impacts of tourism on host destination and means to deal with or mitigate the negative impacts. Enhancing the managerial and leadership positions. Taking advantages of tourism benefits into educational programs which encourage the sense of appreciation of the environment and social-cultural aspects. Raising of local officials knowledge and competencies of sustainable development practices is also of principal significance. Thus, training programs to build capacity and competencies of municipal officials as well as other local agencies and organizations should focus on the three interrelated elements of: Individual skills or competencies, Organizational effectiveness, and Institutional interrelationships On the other hand, tourism service staffs (e.g. tour guides, hotel staff, waiters, etc) need to be trained to promote the quality of services. Short term training on how to provide guide services to tourists should also be conducted [in schools] periodically before and during the development process. Other than this, TAT should send its staff or Yala Municipality should search for professionals (e.g. AIT faculties) to conduct Skills-Training to community people of how to produce local products or handicrafts with integrating environmental-friendly practices and to provide good guide service for tourists. Table 4: Detailed Plan of Stage IV The Steps of Stage IV Implementing Organizations
1. Training on improvement of services for tourism related business staff (e.g. tour guides, hotel staff, waiters, etc.) Training to community people on local products or handicrafts-making skills TAT-Division of Tourism Product and Skills Training Tourism Professionals TAT

Who would pay


TAT Private Tourism Business Sector TAT

2.

3.

4.

Building capacity and; training on tourism development and planning and environmental management to the municipal staff Tour Guide Skills-Training

Tourism Professionals

Yala Municipality

TAT Tour Guide Professionals

Private Tourism Business Sectors

Remarks: Based on Research Findings, 2000.

In this stage, short-term and long-term intensive manners are necessary depending on the scope and speed of the development of the industry. The training should be conducted periodically before and during the development process for upgrading to a necessary level. Stage V: Raising Public Awareness Campaign This stage should start by organizing public meetings and campaigns in order to involve the public in the project development, planning and implementation. The success of a program of an organization depends on the participation and motivation of the public as all of the phases are performed by people and affect people. Therefore, in order to meet the goal and objectives of sustainable tourism development of the selected scenario, public awareness raising and public involvement are necessary and of importance. Table 5: Detailed Plan of Stage V The Steps of Stage V Implementing Organizations
1. Organizing public meetings and campaigns about the importance of tourism industry to the local economy and environment 2. Training and educating local people in the way to treating the tourists (hospitality-treating or feeling the tourists as not outsiders) 3. Awareness campaign about sharing pubic/tourism facilities with tourists Remarks: Based on Research Findings, 2000. Tourism Development Board Yala Municipality Yala Community Association

Who would pay


Yala Municipality

During this stage, Yala municipal lord mayor should be the leader or initiator in the action. This stage demands a continuous and regular process. It is not a one month or one year work, but it is a long process by which the community members will learn more through experiencing it. It should start immediately after knowing that there are tourism market demands and economic advantages. In order to attain the success of this awareness campaign program, it is essential to have good management and cooperation from each organization involved. Stage VI: Initiation of Sustainable Tourism Development and Planing In this last stage of the proposed strategic planning approach, Yala Municipality and Yala provincial government should integrate tourism into their economic development-planning framework, which takes into account both the immediate and long-term needs of hosts and tourists. It should also consider all economic, environmental, social and cultural aspects of the local area in planning. Tourism Development Board must actively encourage the participation

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of local people in planning and implementation of specific tourism development projects regarding market demands. The involvement of local people will benefit and to the environment in general. In order to satisfy tourists and visitors, the municipality in collaboration with Tourism Development Board should select specific tourism development projects that are feasible and compatible to the area. The municipal infrastructure and facilities (e.g. public toilets) should be upgraded and improved for better quality of service for tourists. The Tourism Development Board should promote markets of existing and newly developed tourist potentials of the area by encouraging TAT and Private Tourism Business Associations to integrate tourist potentials of the area into package tours of tourism based on market demands and physical feasibility. The linked- road between tourist sites should be built or upgraded to a necessary standard. Local media will also be used as a source of advertisement of the attractions. The promotion will provide tourists with information including important respects of the natural, social and cultural environment of the destination areas. The Board should conduct continuous research studies for the improvements of the effectiveness of tourism development projects along with its project monitoring and evaluating process. The Board director must ensure that the results of the research studies and evaluations are disseminated to the institutions and individuals responsible for tourism decision making. This stage is a long process of planning, implementing and evaluation for improvements of the tourism development program in the area. It is recommended for the first one year as for a pilot project or program after the Board is formed. Specific tourism planning and development of Yala Municipality need to be revised and modified upon the change of the situation. The revision of development process can take place at any step of the planning. Effective strategic planning for sustainable tourism development of Yala Municipality requires periodic review to ensure not only that this strategic planning is carried out in the prescribed manner but also that it is achieving the expected results. The feedback loop plays a decisive part in the operation of the strategic planning. It allows the development decision makers to make adjustments according to how well or poorly it has been working and according to changes in the environment. V. Conclusion In conclusion, there are two major values of the research findings. The first is to show the municipality some possible levels of tourism development through the generation of the alternative scenarios. The second is to point out a way to reach the goal and objectives of the development by proposing a strategic planning approach in order to define the possible solutions for the area. The study ultimately recognized there is a need to explore the market tourism demands and benefit feasibility of the area. The municipality will likely to invest more resources as the investment for the development in order to achieve the socioeconomic and environment benefits. Tourism development of Yala Municipality demands strong commitment and cooperation among involved stakeholders. The suggested strategic planning approach is a tool for sustainable tourism development of the area.

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Though the recommended strategic planning approach for sustainable tourism development in the area was for short term (one year), it also can be modified for medium and long term strategic planning purpose in according to the changes of the municipal environment. VI. Recommended Further Work This research can generally provide the basis of a series of strategic approach stages or actions that are essential for sustainable tourism development of the study area. The proposed composition and steps of each stage may not be the best solutions for the area due to a lack of local knowledge on the part of the resources, time constraints and limitation of available data. The notion or process flow of each stage may not be exactly the same as what proposed in this strategic planning. The research thus recommends further work for Yala Municipality to determine the exact activities and elements of the development process. For instance one area is in the determination of the specification of the composition of tourism development Board. The study thus recommends the following works to be proceeded: The composition of the suggested Tourism Development Board be assessed. A Tourism market feasibility of the study area be carried out. A feasibility study of cost-benefit evaluation of the development program regarding economic, socio-cultural and environmental aspects be instituted. A comprehensive study of the level of support and participation of private investors be undertaken.

Therefore, the task of the municipality is to study the proposed approach and decide how it can make best use of the suggested actions.

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