Pongsak Hoontakul, DBA Senior Research Fellow Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University Sasa Patasala Building, Soi Chulalongkorn 12(2), Phyathai Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. Tel: (662) 954 1689 Email: Pongsak@Hoontrakul.com
Jukka M. Laitamaki, Ph.D. Associate Professor New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management 10 Astor Place, Suite 502, New York, NY 10003-7154, USA Tel: (212) 998-7291 Email: JL142@nyu.edu
Thailand’s tourism industry has suffered significant crises including SARS, Southern Thailand unrest, tsunami and bird flu, all of which have required swift crisis management by the Thai government. This study addresses the Thai government’s responses to these crises and their impact on tourism. The study proposes a crisis management framework that considers the degree of uncertainty in the operating environment and the degree of complexity in the operating mission. The purpose of the framework is to assist governments and private sector in managing future crisis including the looming global bird flu pandemic.
Introduction The new millennium has been defined by several global crises since the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001. There have been several terrorist inflicted tourism crises from the Bali bombings on October 12, 2002 to the most recent hotel bombings in Amman Jordan in November 2005. In addition to these crises, tourism has suffered from serious health crises including the foot and mouth disease 2001, the SARS1 epidemic in 2003 and the bird flu2 that started to expand in June 2002 and threatens to become a global pandemic. Tourism has also been impacted by several natural disasters including earthquakes, flooding, wild fires, hurricanes (i.e. Katrina and Rita in New Orleans and Texas October 2005, and Wilma in Mexico November 2005), and the most devastating Tsunami in December 2004. Several researchers have addressed individual tourism related crisis or a specific type of crisis such as terrorism (see Laws and Prideaux, (2005) and Mintel Oxygen (2007) for the most recent reviews). Pizam A. & Smith, G. (2000), Faulkner (2001), Ritchie (2004), Laws and Prideaux (2005), and Scott and Laws (2005) have highlighted the need for research focusing on the management aspects of crisis, their impacts and strategies for recovery, risk and damage minimization. This study contributes to the existing literature by addressing the Thai government crisis management of the four different types of crises, namely SARS, Southern Thailand unrest, tsunami and bird flu. Based on the findings the study proposes a crisis management framework that considers the degree of uncertainty in the operating environment and the degree of complexity in the operating mission. The purpose of this framework is to assist governments and private sector in responding to different types of tourism crises including the looming threat of the global bird flu pandemic. This paper concludes with suggestions for future crisis management research. The study focuses on Thailand where the tourism industry has long contributed significantly to the Thai economy. According to the Bank of Thailand (BoT) the tourism industry accounted for 7.7 % of the USD 180 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed 3.3 million Thais which amounted to 8.4 % workforce in 2004. World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) projects above 8% annual growth which would mean that by 2014 the tourism industry would be the most important economic sector in Thailand with 11.7 % of GDP and 12.6% of the workforce. The Thai tourism industry has suffered losses due to the Asian economic crises in 1997, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001, the bird flu epidemic starting in 2002, SARS breakout in 2003, unrest in Southern Thailand since 2004, and the tsunami disaster on December...