The temporary closure of Maya Bay – located at Phi Phi Le Island in Thailand’s Krabi province – was an executive decision made to overcome problems of “over-tourism” and degradation of the marine ecosystems. The purpose of this paper is to assess the process of stakeholder engagement by the Thai authorities before they arrived at decisions on the closure of Maya Bay.
A multi-method qualitative research through in-depth interviews and netnography was designed to examine opinions of participants within the context of investigation.
The key findings revolve around the central research question of “how are stakeholders managed and consulted to overcome ‘over-tourism’ in Maya Bay?”. The research question can be sub-divided into three parts – the identification of “over-tourism,” the process of engaging and consulting with stakeholders on solutions to deal with “over-tourism,” and the final decision on selected approaches to overcome “over-tourism.”
The researchers draw upon the views from the five groups of stakeholders to propose recommendations on tackling “over-tourism” issues that local governments and destination management agencies might face. A business, residents, authorities, visitors and environmentalists (BRAVE) stakeholders framework is proposed by integrating five main stakeholder categories – businesses (B), residents (R), authorities (A), visitors (V) and environmentalists (E). This “BRAVE” stakeholders model is then used to assess the various stakeholders’ positions on the issue of “over-tourism” in Maya Bay, including a cost-benefit analysis in an “over-tourism” situation. Particular attention is placed on how different stakeholders work together and converge on a decision accepted by all.
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