Construction of the Meanings of Tourism in the Writings of Thai Travel Bloggers: A Critical Discourse Analysis
Keywords:discourse on tourism; travel writing; travel blogger; Critical Discourse Analysis; tourism studies
Background and objective (s): Tourism has been flourishing and has generated a large amount of income, both in Thai and global contexts. Travel bloggers have played a crucial role in promoting tourism and especially in constructing the meanings of tourism. The research for this article aimed to examine the construction of the meanings of tourism by means of linguistic devices in the writings of Thai travel bloggers.
Methodology: Norman Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1992, 1995) serves as a framework for analyzing 100 pieces of texts from 10 famous Thai travel bloggers, each contributing 10 entries.
Main result: Based on the materials, it was found that there are four dominate and related clusters of ideas on tourism: (1) tourism is a desirable activity, (2) tourism is an investment and risky, (3) tourism is a mission, and (4) travel bloggers are “friends” who provide effective guidance for travelers/tourists so that they can accomplish their mission.
These clusters of ideas are constructed using nine linguistic devices: a set of lexical words, presupposition, imperative discourse, cause and effect structure of the statement, casual language style, the lexical terms of confirmation, superlative forms, reasonings and definitions.
This study argues that the meanings of tourism found in the travel writings are contradictory. Desirable tourism is defined as relaxation, but it is also considered a mission at the same time. In addition, although travel bloggers are represented as “friends” who provide effective guidance for travelers/tourists, they do so by using authoritative and injunctive statements.
In terms of discursive practice, it was found that the writings of Thai travel bloggers exhibit interdiscursivity that combines tourism and business discourses. From the perspective of socio-cultural practice, the emergence of low-cost carriers in Thailand and of user-generated content render the writings of Thai travel bloggers an experiential and promotional discourse.
Relevance to Thai Studies: The research for this article reveals how language constructs the meanings of tourism, which shapes Thai people’s understandings and their behavior related to tourism in contemporary Thai society. In a Thai context, the research broadens the scope of analysis for the role of language through the lens of discourse studies and tourism studies and should also make a contribution to the studies of Thai language and Thai society in other aspects.
Conclusion: The writings of Thai travel bloggers portray tourism as “a desirable activity” in order to make tourism attractive. The writings then present tourism as “a risky investment” and as “a mission,” to provide the idea that tourism is a necessity and an activity that requires careful planning. Finally, travel bloggers are represented as “friends” of travelers/tourists who give advice and design the way of traveling to secure the accomplishment of their travel missions and desirable travel experiences. The construction of these meanings is meant to promoting the authority of travel bloggers and maximizing their own financial benefits.
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