Area-Based Tourism Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism of Thailand (ABTC)
The Thailand Research Fund (TRF)

 Under Supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister,               The Royal Thai Government


        Tourism has been the country’s backbone industry oiling the engine of the economy as well as curing economic malaise. The largest foreign exchange generator, the sector has moved through sure-footed phases of growth and reinvention securing Thailand’s position on the tourism world map.
        The Thailand Research Fund (TRF), an independent research organization under the 1992 Research Endowment Act, has helped to invigorate the ever expansive development of national tourism. The Fund offers a wealth of integrated research support to maintain the tourism edge without losing sight of other crucial objectives: preserving natural environment, culture, local wisdom and indigenous identities, among others.
        The Area-Based Tourism Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism of Thailand (ABTC) answers to the groundbreaking concept-employing research as a conduit to harness the tourism potentials. In practice, ABTC gradually builds up tourism network brick-by-brick and manages it in a participatory fashion. Ultimately, the programme derives an uninterrupted chain of “knowledge components” which are “deposited” in the databank for retrieval by relevant tourism stakeholders. The compilation of data then becomes the material necessary for mapping out tourism developmental strategies in all spectrums and at all levels.

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Research in a New Perspective
        Previously, the TRF had preferred to conduct its tourism related research in favour of the conventional, top-down approach which, despite a projected success of the end result, too often delivered the opposite. The flaw is apparent and traceable to the very first step; the issues providing the basis of the research are dictated by the high-up policies and rarely by the locality. Geography gives a first-hand, accurate picture of tourism needs, problems and occurrences. The direction, therefore, has been re-oriented to make the research area-based. Targetted areas are split into tourism clusters, within which interconnected pieces of research are undertaken to form a well-fitted tourism jigsaw puzzle ready to be utilised as a development blueprint.
Vision and Mission
        The ABTC serves to satisfy a number of somewhat daunting but surmountable conditions. First and foremost is the development and management of sustainable tourism in Thailand. Priorities also rest with the creation of a databank, and the sourcing of knowledge components conducive to implementation of the area-based research carried out at national, regional to provincial levels. At the heart of the programme lies a strategy involving management of tourism in a way that places balanced emphasis on hostguest relation. In the “equation”, local tertiary institutes are positioned as “leading actors” performing the role of researchers tasked with producing individual jigsaw pieces which, once assembled, unveil a complete tourism development diagram worthy of policy illustration. In breadth, the process promotes a networking of local and international researchers.
Objectives
         The ABTC functions with three objectives in mind; producing quality research, training capable and skilled researchers, as well as devising new research management method drawing on the collaboration between researchers of different institutions in the locality and users of research outputs. These are prerequisites of quality research that is truly practical. The objectives aforementioned concur to ensure a steady feed of research information into the databank vital for efficient handling of tourism affairs.
Process of Collaboration to Achieve Objectives
         All procedures under the programme require research parties to work in concert, from the initial stage of project proposal until the conclusion phase. The core process calls for such undertakings as area survey, brainstorming of research question and documentary reviews before the research paper is approved to be archived in the databank. The entire process proves useful as capacity booster for the researchers as well as empowers them.
The Standard of Tourism Research Set by the Programme
         (1) A research meets the exacting standard when it is able to 1) sum up the overall anatomy of the tourism sites selected for study; 2) disseminate strategic information to steer the course of tourism development; 3) present a multidimensional scope within the study focus, for example, indepth analysis of the host-guest relation; and 4) offer layered data divided into provincial and provincial cluster subgroups.
Scope of Area-Based Tourism Research
The research responsibilities cover three primary areas;
         • Databank project for mapping out tourism development and management strategies:
              • Provincial Cluster Tourism Databank
                  - Andaman research grouping (comprising Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi)
                  - Lanna research grouping (comprising Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son)
                  - Southern Esarn research grouping (comprising Nakhon Ratchasima, Surin, Si Sa Ket, Buri Ram and Ubon Ratchathani)
                  - Burapa research grouping (comprising Chanthaburi,Trat, Rayong andChonburi)
                  - Upper Southern Part of Thailand research grouping (Songkhla, Phattalung, Nakhonsithammarat, Trang and Satun)
              • Country-Based Tourism Databank
                  - Thailand-China Databank Project
                  - Tour Repackaging for Thailand
              • Region-Based Tourism Databank
                  - Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tourism Databank (comprising ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia)
                  - ASEAN Collaborative Tourism Research Databank via ASEAN Tourism Stakeholder Networks under ASEAN Tourism Roadmap
         •Creation of network of researchers specialising in tourism and hotel industry
              - Enhancing potentials of researchers specialising in tourism and hotel industry
              - Producing E-Journal of International Thai Tourism
              - Organising brainstorming forums on tourism and hotel research
              - Setting up a data source for tourism and hotel studies (www.ttresearch.org)
              - Setting up a data source for tourism and hotel researchers
              - Convening an annual academic seminar on tourism and hotel industry
        •National research agenda on sustainable tourism
              - Assigning two groups; one dealing with hot research issue of the day, and another in charge of tourism strategy planning
              - Special Track Tourism Research (Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Samut Songkham)
              - Tourism Cooperative Research Innovations for Educational Institutes
              - Tourism Cooperative Research Centres (TCRC)
Aiming High and Realising the Ultimate Goal
         The highest goal ABTC has devoted its resources and manpower to achieving is 1) furnishing a collection of research information and outputs in databank files, 2) constructing and expanding a network of tourism stakeholders and of educational institutes, 3) revolutionising tourism research system with the coming together of stakeholders to define the issue in research focus. In addition, the Centre lends unhindered research assistance by opening up databank accessibility to tourism strategists, expediting the pace of the industry’s progress. The initiative to mobilise research efforts from the bottom up and involve all stakeholders in cultivating new knowledge speaks volume of the centre’s commitment to a sustained tourism development.
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            Therdchai Choibamroong Ph.D., M.Soc Sc. (Dist), BA.
            Area-Based Tourism Research Manager
            14th Floor, SM Tower, 979/17-21 Phaholyothin Road,
            Phayathai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
            Tel: 66-2298-0455 ext.159-160 Fax. 66-2298-0454
            E-mail : [email protected], [email protected]
 
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