Accepted Paper:

Researching locals' perception of tourism in its early stages: insights from site studies in Viengxay, Lao PDR  

Authors:

Thomas Bauer (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
Haiyan Song (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
Wantanee Suntikul (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Paper Short Abstract:

The paper will propose some generalisable strategies for anthropological focus group research in areas in which tourism is in its nascent stages.

Paper long abstract:

Attitudes towards tourism among host societies are influenced by many factors, personal and societal, involving both actual experience and future aspirations. This is complicated further when doing research among societies in which tourism is a future possibility rather than a present reality, necessitating the development of special tactics for the gathering and analysis of data. The proposed paper draws on experiences in conducting site research into the perceptions and expectations of locals regarding the potential development of tourism in remote and undeveloped areas of Laos. The concept of tourism as an activity, a social milieu or economic sector is completely foreign to the societies being researched. Therefore, the researcher had to develop methods for gauging opinions on a topic that was at best ill-defined for most of the respondents, and about which they had never been asked to formulate an opinion. This necessitated the adaptation of methods to acknowledge and accommodate the mixing of actual experience with aspirations in the respondents input. The paper will recount the ways in which focus group methods were adapted and customized in the course of this research to address these and other challenges, and will propose some generalisable strategies for anthropological focus group research in areas in which tourism is in its nascent stages.

Panel B2
Tourism: applied anthropological interventions