Keywords: ecotourism, environmental discourse, epiphenomenal, social movements, Thailand
What happened on "The Beach"? Social movements and governance of tourism in Thailand
Debates about ecotourism are futile without an understanding of how concepts of ecologically acceptable and unacceptable forms of tourism are developed. This paper assesses the case of public opposition to the filming of the Hollywood film, The Beach, in Thailand on grounds that it caused environmental degradation. Evidence suggests that campaigners overstated the film's environmental impact in order to empower criticisms of the state. Yet the impact of the overstatement may strengthen other campaigns elsewhere in Thailand to exclude economic activities in national parks. The paper consequently argues that debates about environment and tourism need to assess the underlying implications of the environmental discourse used, and the extent to which this has been democratically constructed.