Title

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Tourists, Travellers, and the Quest for Cultural Authenticity in Southern Thailand

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Publication Title

Tourist Studies

Department

International Political Economy

Abstract

This article explores the expectations, behaviour, and motivations of different groups of tourists in southern Thailand. Many studies have assumed that backpackers and other ‘alternative’ tourists represent a new, more sensitive and responsible form of traveller, but evidence from southern Thailand belies these assumptions and reveals many similarities in the behavioural patterns of tourists. Further, the very process of ordering tourists into hierarchical, normative categories based on objective measures of difference is misleading and ignores the importance of discrepant subjective approaches to authenticity. Based on interviews with three groups of tourists in southern Thailand – divided according to their degree of involvement with the mass, packaged tourism industry – this article offers a theoretical model of alternative tourism based on the desire for cultural authenticity, and concludes with a discussion of how the example of alternative tourism in southern Thailand relates to status and social differentiation among the new middle classes.

Volume

3

Issue

2

pp.

171-203

ISSN

1468-7976