Thailand: holiday destination or conflict zone? - The representation of Thailand in online media
In the last few years Thailand has been in a turbulent period. Every few months there seems to be another (violent) incident. At the same time tourists still undertake their travels to this destination. This makes one wonder about how Thailand is portrayed on tourism websites. Therefore, this research gives an answer to the following question: what image do tourism websites in the Netherlands give from contemporary Thailand? To answer this question, this research applies a multimodal discourse analysis on the texts and images of three kinds of tourism websites: official websites, tour operators and blogs. The theories of John Urry on the tourist gaze and Edward Said on orientalism and imperialism have been used as a theoretical framework throughout this research. The hypotheses of the research states that the websites will portray Thailand differently. It is expected that the official websites will go i! nto the t urbulence in the country, the tour operators will depict Thailand as a holiday destination and that de blogs will go into both themes. At the end of this research this hypotheses needs to be assessed. The official websites give a diverse image of Thailand, both on a linguistic and on a visual level. They do not only go into the turbulence, but also portray Thailand as a holiday destination. The tour operators do what is expected of them and they portray Thailand as a holiday destination only. In the blogs Thailand is mostly represented as a holiday destination as well. Only very few blogs go into the turbulence of the country. However, it looks like the bloggers are aware of the situation in Thailand, because they seem to avoid the more dangerous areas of the country. This can also explain partially why the turbulence is not mentioned more frequently. When a comparison is made between the representations of the websites considering Thailand, three things stand out. First of! all, on linguistic level the content of the websites is very different, but in every category there are websites that make the same sloppy mistakes. This gives the reader a rather careless impression of the websites and of the bloggers. Besides this, it is striking that in all three categories maps are among the images. Moreover, the tourist gaze is prominent in almost every website. As a consequence, on visual level, Thailand is first and foremost portrayed as a holiday destination. It is important to be aware of these differences and similarities in a time when the information on the internet becomes more and more important.
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