The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance of home stay accommodation to Thai tourism. The first concern of this paper is to identify the definition of home stay, identify the group of customers who like to use home stay accommodation in Thailand and also discover the activities that prove to be attractive to them. The second concern of this paper is that the development and expansion of a home stay destination should lead to advantages such as an increase in local income and employment opportunities. On the other hand, when too many tourists come to an unspoilt area it can have an adverse effect on the balance of natural ecology. For example, two places, namely “Pai in Mae Hong Son province”, one of the most popular home stay destinations in the North which is over developed , and “Chiang Khan in Loei province”, a developing home stay destination in the northeast of Thailand. Some people said that Chiang Khan is Pai of the past. Within Pai itself, there is a movement to resist against the excesses that has spoilt Pai and destroyed its peaceful rural character that had drawn people to it in the first place.
Thailand is a developing country that attempts to grow and tourism is an industry that can significantly help stimulate economic growth. Consequently, when home stay tourism improves, it will expand the power of supply and help draw more tourists. Therefore, sustainable development is the better way to balance the development and maintain the original character. Logically, the more travel destinations developed, the more tourists will come and the more money the country will earn.
Keywords: Home stay, Thailand, Sustainable development
Tourism makes a major contribution to Thailand’s economy. Most tourists come to Thailand for various reasons — mostly for the beaches and relaxation. The friendly, easy-going ways of the Thai people also proves a draw to most tourists, as well as the rich Thai culture, customs and history. The new marketing slogan which was adopted in mid 2009, “Amazing Thailand, Amazing Value”, and the government’s stimulation package also seemed to have helped reverse the downward trend for the latter half of 2009 and for the present year.
Moreover, nowadays, most people are concerned about the effect of global warming and are returning to nature; in another word “Green” has become a new catchword for tourists. Not only “Green” but also “Sustainable” are the popular words more and more tourists are fanning out into the countryside to be closer to nature. Consequently, rural tourism makes use of the countryside as a destination. It is a significant sector of overall tourism market in many countries. It will affect not only the environment but also the economy and social structure of the countryside. The number of activities that tourists participate in has grown. For example, agri-tourism (agricultural, festivals and other cultural events), green tourism (considered to be more environmentally friendly) and ecotourism (nature tourism). Home stay is a part of rural tourism. In addition, sustainable tourism development is synonymous with rural tourism. Nowadays, home stay tourism in Thailand has become very popular for both domestic and foreign tourists. Part of the reason may be due to the effect of the world economic crisis, with most tourists worrying about their budget and travelling in this kind of home stay tourism costs less. So, the Thai Government rapidly develop Thai home stay to meet this new demand for economical packages. But it can be a two-edged sword with both positive and negative sides. Therefore, we must find the right balance.
Definition of Home stay
Home stay is a form of tourism that allows the visitor to rent a room from a local family to stay and better learn the local lifestyle and share their culture. It is comparable to the western concept of bed and breakfasts. A home stay property is a non-commercialized, private residence that accommodates paying guest(s) who enjoy staying in the comfort and security of a family home. In Thailand, the history of home stay began with students who were volunteers for rural development camps and who stayed with the local people during the course of their camp. Then, National Economic and Social plan 8th emphasized the development of communities and decentralization to local areas and home stay had its first formal recognition. The attraction of home stay is the way of life of the local people and natural attractions are not always considered an essential part. There are two types of home stay in Thailand which are the “original” and “practical”. In the original home stay concept, tourists stay with the host and live under the same conditions as the owner. In the practical home stay, conditions are improved for more physical comfort but the concept of an easy way of life and unique culture is not abandoned.
However, the significance of home stay is participation in community life in which local people manage activities together. The activities vary from place to place and according to seasonal variations. They may include Thai culinary, Thai massage, farm life etc. Moreover, OTOP (One tambon one product) is a concept whereby local people are encouraged to make local products for sale to boost their income. The owners are encouraged to think that each visitor is “a guest, not just a tourist” (tourismthailand.org). They are a part of the family. Home stay is just another job for the home owner. When tourists come he will extend them his welcome but he still retains his main job such as fisherman or farmer. The advantages of home stay are the local knowledge that will be gained from the host, understanding the easy way of life and experience the natural kindness of the local people. Moreover, the local people receive more income but they do not abandon their main job. In addition, they share the experience with the tourists, get more friends and the community can become strong. In the age of globalization, many people live in a competitive world so many people now want to explore the easy life and a life of simple sufficiency as an alternative way of life.
An additional benefit of home stay accommodation is that most of the money earned goes to the grassroot local people, rather into a large conglomerate? The local home owners get most of the money paid by the tourists. This has a more substantial benefit to a community, rather that if a large hotel chain was to open a large hotel and merely employ local people as hotel staff. Most of the earnings will then go to the hotel chain, with most of it likely sent out of the country.
The owner and accommodation should meet the standard of home stay in Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has set 10 standards and 31 indicators.
Demand for home stay in Thailand
The majority of income in Thailand comes from agriculture and tourism. Income from tourism is significant for the Thai economy in terms of expanding and stability of the economy. Tourism in Thailand caters both to domestic and foreign travelers. Nowadays, Thailand in faced with negative situations which decreased the confidence of tourists from 2008 until now. “TAT expects the number of international tourists will grow at around 7 to 10% to approximately 15.0 to 15.5 million in 2010” (Tourism Authority of Thailand.com). The Bank of Thailand stated that “there are 1.6 million foreign tourists who traveled to Thailand in February 2010” which represented a drop from last year. “Domestic tourists were not particularly affected by the political situation. It was more influenced by the economic slowdown and fluctuating oil prices in the first and second quarters of 2009. Local travelers have changed their travelling habits, are more conscious of travel expenses, and are tending to visit tourist destinations closer to home” (Tourism Authority of Thailand.com). The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board predicted the economy would grow at 3 to 4% due to the global economic recovery and the government’s Thai Khem Khaeng (‘Stronger Thailand’) economic stimulus programme. New tourist attractions and activities that reflect the culture and style of a particular region will also be introduced. Therefore, the government supports and aims at the recovery of the Thai tourism market through marketing campaigns namely road shows to restore the image of Thailand and promotional advertisements under the Amazing Thailand, Amazing Value concept.
Home stay is one of the better destinations which has proved attractive to both international and domestic tourists. It is a part of tourism in Thailand which continues to grow and earn income because it is set in rural areas far from the negative effects of political disturbances, is not expensive and brings visitors into close contact with nature. The tourists can relax among friendly local people. Therefore, the measurement and understanding of the demand and supply for tourism is important to overall tourism planning and management. We will know overall picture of the development, growth and value of tourism. All tourist behavior or activity results from motivation. Motivation is the context of the demand for tourism.
Motivations have both push and pull factors together. The push factors are socio-psychological motives (person-specific factors). The pull factors are motives aroused by the destination (destination-specific factors). Tourists who go to home stay destinations usually have both push and pull factors. They want to relax, be close to nature and share knowledge, which are push factors. The pull factors are from the easy way of life of the people, unique culture and eco-friendliness. For example, a mini-farm is a magnet for tourists who travel with children. Mostly, domestic tourists usually go to home stay by car because some places are not far from urban centers such as Bangkok. It does not take too much time to immerse oneself in relaxation, fresh air and escape from the complicated city life. In contrast, international tourists mostly are backpackers usually stay a long time in home stays because of cheap prices but also because of the calmness, relaxed life style and the ability to explore new experience.
Supply of the Home stay in Thailand
On the supply side, the development of home stay is happening in Thailand. It is stimulated by the demand which comes from tourist needs. Some people want more comfort, some want plain, simple facilities, others demand higher standards. So, the local people work together toward the development of standards for home stay facilities in Thailand.
Sometime, the popularity of a destination can lead to mass tourism. Mass tourism is a situation where a large number of tourists go to one place, sometime leading to an overload of local facilities. This can lead to further development of transport and other utilities until the easy way of life disappears. Moreover, it will adversely affect to the environment.
Pai in Mae Hong Son province and Chiang Khan in Loei province are examples of popular home stay destinations in Thailand that have been developed to different degrees. One has already been spoilt and the other is resisting against a tendency toward over development. Pai is a small district in Mae Hong Son which was an ideal destination, being nestled in a small valley surrounded by mountains with cool weather. It was a romantic spot with friendly people can rich culture. Some people have referred to the village as called Uto-Pai, mimicking the name Utopia of Sir Thomas More. All this has made Pai very well known as hoards of tourists are drawn to it. Material development followed and soon the small village of Pai had its own air strip where tourists can arrive after a mere 25 minutes from Chiang Mai. Hotels and resorts also sprang up in its wake. All these development had a negative effect on the local inhabitant; while they used to be wont to retiring to bed early after a hard day’s work, they are now disturbed by loud music at entertainment places late at night. “Music festivals” became weekly events in the winter months. Some local people sold their land to capitalists and move to the foothills for the sake of peace and quiet. These changes reflect the fact that Pai is changing rapidly in both positive and negative ways. In addition, local children are falling to temptations from the western ways of tourists. Some local people said these development are more like deterioration.
Not only Pai but Chiang Khan (a district on the bank of the Mekong river in Loei province), a relatively recent home stay destination, is facing similar problems. The conflict between local people and government is looming. The government wants to develop the town to cater to more and more tourists, but many local people want to see a steady growth of Chiang Khan. They want Chiang Khan to be strong, to retain its rural qualities and control itself. They do not want more bright lights in Chiang Khan, do not want to follow the modern trend because tourists come and go rapidly and do not stay a long time. Nowadays, some of the local people in Chiang Khan are already closing rank in a fight against rapidly over development. They have formed a tourism association within which they discussed the problems of westernization and over development which has plagued Pai. They have started a website where every one is welcomed to add comments. They are fighting against bright lights, loud music and weekend concerts that have combined to destroyed Pai’s rural character. They want tourism in Chiang Khan to be sustainable. They do not want Chiang Khan to have luxury “boutique hotels”, modern pubs or franchise coffee shop chains. They want Chiang Khan to retain its rural character with an easy way of life, home stays based on original houses without elaborate decoration, so when tourists come they will feel like they are the part of the family and coffee is still hand-brewed traditional coffee. Some people said that Chiang Khan is Pai of the past. Therefore, before Chiang Khan changes like Pai we must to help each other.
Sustainable development of Home stay in Thailand
Tourism, if developed locally, can help to ease the poverty problem, reduce income disparity and achieve a friendly environment as well as common prosperity. Tourism brings not only benefits but also costs and if not well managed may undermine its sustainability in the long run. In Thailand, tourism has a positive income generating effect but potentially worsening income distribution (Mingsan Kaosa-ard 2006). The best way to balance the development is through sustainable development in which every part must work together.
Sustainable Development is development that satisfies the customer needs now but does not destroy tomorrow’s resources. The Pareto Optimum states that no one can be made better off by making someone worse off (businessdictionary.com).
Customer demands lead to marketing research and material development. That is the marketing process. After that, planning and management are essential for achieving successful tourism development.
Sustainable Tourism Development emphasizes the management of tourism industry must adapt itself according to the changing face of the world in term of sustainable pattern. There are three parameters of sustainability which are economic (well being), environment (ecological balance) and socio-cultural considerations (Sense of community and security). For example, the development should makes more money while at the same time have a minimum effect on the environment and social-cultural framework.
The key to sustainable tourism development is to educate communities so that they understand the negative impacts of mass tourism and the limit to the ecosystem’s carrying capacity, and to develop diversified tourist products that can minimize the negative impact of mass tourism.
For instance, in France they have standard and label for accommodation which confirm the standard and evaluate the standard and quality every five years. The label is one of marketing strategy which make good picture of the product. Moreover, they separate the demand equal in every areas and every part works together. Those are the good example for the development of home stay which Thailand should adapt for the development of home stay in Thailand.
Amphawa floating market (Plai Pong Pag community) is a good example of home stay in Thailand which supports many tourists every year. It affects the quality of life of the local people, while the rapidly rising number of tourists has unavoidably led to a deterioration in the environment. Most of the home stay places have not attained the standard of home stay in Thailand even though this is the first community to launch the concept of home stay, but they have failed to meet the home stay standards. Because some home stay have transformed their homes so much that they became more like resorts and they do not match the qualifications of the home stay standard. Home stay will get the standard when they do not add more building and tourists must stay with the owner. According to that problem, National economic and social plan 9th stated that sustainable tourism in Thailand which wants to be a quality destination and ready in supply of tourism for support many tourists.
We can transmit knowledge of France to Thailand; not in its entirety but we can adapt it. The government should have an effective and systemic plan such as setting policies or laws for the community and provide for penalties for culprits. It is hard for the government in Thailand to extend proper care to the home stay business in some communities because the local people worry about taxation and are not always forthcoming with information for the government. So, the government should establish an institute which can win the confidence of the local people and demonstrate the significance of the standard and effective management to the local people.
The negative impacts on Pai and Chiang Khan happened because of civilization, but the impact on Amphawa was due to the ignorance of the local people. Therefore, the development is a two-edged sword that can have both advantages and disadvantages if we are ineffective. The best solution is the cooperation of everybody, beginning with community participation and the support of the government. The government decentralizes budgets to the community but continue to give technical advices to the local people. After that, policies such as the limit on the number of tourists will happen not only to care for the environment but for the sake of tourists who do not want to be in a place crowded with other tourists; they can relax and be closer to nature. Moreover, the local people can take care of all tourists like a part of the family. Do not forget that sustainable development is the better way of development and sustainable concern three things which are economy, environment and also socio-cultural parts.
In conclusion, tourism constitutes a major part of the Thai economy, encompassing both domestic and international tourists. Home stay is an alternative form of tourism which is based in the rural area that tourists stay and live with the local people. They can share the experience and culture. In Thailand, home stay began with the student volunteer for rural development camps and after National economic and social plan 8th home stay was developed until now. The motivations for travel home stay have both push and pull factors. The push factors usually are for relaxation. Mostly, domestic tourists go to home stay by car and relax for two or three days, but international tourists often stay much longer. The pull factors usually are the easy way of life, close contact with nature and fresh air. Material development is significant for home stay because it has both positive and negative sides. Material development can help attract tourists, although consideration must be given to suitable forms of development that should not destroy the original attraction of the place. It is a good marketing strategy to improve the quality of home stay accommodation. The home stay standards have been laid down in Thailand, but most of the home stays in Thailand still do not meet them, such as in Amphawa. Moreover, some places such as Pai is overloaded with tourists while Chiang Khan is still trying to resist this trend toward over-development. Pai and Chiang Khan demonstrate both advantages and disadvantages of material development. The solution for a balance is sustainability which centers on economic, environmental and socio-cultural considerations. France can be a good example for sustainable development. Thai home stay should adapt it and adopt it right now. The government should start by educating the local people and then carry out research on customer needs, marketing strategy, planning and management. In addition, strong policies are significant, with a need for penalties for those who break the rules. The importance is the cooperation of everybody in the country, because everybody is part of the progression of Thailand.