Striking a Balance: An Example of Linkages Between Community Development and community- Based Ecotourism on Koh Yao Noi Island, Phang-Nga Thailand

TitleStriking a Balance: An Example of Linkages Between Community Development and community- Based Ecotourism on Koh Yao Noi Island, Phang-Nga Thailand
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsHaeckel, Melissa
Academic DepartmentLiberal Studies
Thesis AdvisorYoung, John A.
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Liberal
Number of Pages86
Date Published06/2004
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsdevelopment, ecotourism, environmental conservation, Thailand

In Thailand, because of the growing destruction of the environment and privatization of common property resources, local people have not only been struggling, but also demanding the right to access and to manage natural resources of their communities upon which they depend on for their living. This study investigates community-based ecotourism on Koh Yao Noi island, "Tiny, Long Island" in Southwest Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea. The small-scale Muslim Fisherfolk Island of Koh Yao Noi is well-known for its beautiful costal and cultural landscapes and internationally acclaimed Community- Based Ecotourism (CBET) home stay programs, where ecotourism has been successfully combined with integrated community development and environmental conservation.

The purpose of this study is to reexamine the ecotourism and community development in Koh Yao Noi. This research uses a variety of qualitative data, including participant-observation approaches, in-depth focus group exchanges and secondary sources of information, The information gathered is used to study the history of community building and the political empowerment of Koh Yao Noi, focusing on the force behind fishing, environmental movement and women’s participation in CBET.

The major issue facing the Koh Yao Noi community today involves building a consensus on ecotourism among the various local groups and preventing mass tourism in order that environmental conservation and cultural preservation are not sacrificed. The community also faced problems of full participation of community members in CBET and internal conflicts of interest. There were needs for better training and implementation of women's participation in the program, interpretive guiding, and collaboration between the community members and outside professional assistance of non-governmental agencies (NGO's) in planning, networking and better protecting costal marine areas. Despite these issues, the Koh Yao Noi community was found to be proactive in creating a better future for its people. The community used a percentage of the revenue from CBET to establish a social welfare program, women's savings group, and Youth Environmental Club to protect and revive traditional fishing techniques. This case illustrates the importance of community participation in development projects and the potential benefits anf problems of CBE?. While Koh Yao Noi is in many ways unique, this case study has significant implications for generating-policy for the future sustainable development of other communities facing environmental change and negative impacts of tourism.