Language and Community-Based Tourism

Use, Needs, Dependency, and Limitations


  • Singhanat Nomnian Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Alexander Trupp Sunway University, Malaysia
  • Wilawan Niyomthong Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Prakaimook Tangcharoensathaporn Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Anan Charoenkongka Mahidol University, Thailand



Community-based tourism, English as a lingua franca, Language Learning Needs, Language Use, Sustainable Development Goals


Language and tourism are essentially interconnected by the cross-border movement of tourists and the resulting encounters of people who often speak different languages. These relationships, however, have not been explored very much in the context of community- based tourism (CBT), a kind of tourism that has the potential to enhance communities’ socioeconomic growth, language skills, and cultural heritage. This study explores local communities’ perceived English language needs and challenges for tourism purposes in Thailand’s second-tier provinces of Chiang Rai and Buriram. Informed by fieldwork observations, semi-structured, and focus-group interviews, the findings reveal four key issues: i) the limitations of host-guest interaction and communication, ii) dependency on tour guides, iii) communities’ current communicative English needs, and iv) language users’ sociocultural and linguistic identities. In the cross-cultural tourism encounter, English was needed by the communities despite its limited use by CBT leaders and mem- bers. Cultural identities of the communities and individual speakers were constructed by tour guides whose interpretations of cultural meanings could have been lost in trans- lation. Despite the hegemonic lingua franca status of English, multilingual competence among CBT professionals should be promoted to facilitate community communication and more independence from external translators and cultural brokers. Driven by Thai- land’s current economic development model, information and communication technol- ogy (ICT) could be used to help meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 (Quality Education) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) by promoting lifelong learning opportunities and socioeconomic development for remote tourism destinations.

Author Biographies

Singhanat Nomnian, Mahidol University, Thailand

Singhanat Nomnian is an Associate Professor and the Deputy Director for Organizational Communication and Academic  Services  at  Research  Institute  for  Languages  and  Cultures  of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand, and editor of Journal of Language and Culture and THAITESOL Journal. His research interests include English language education, intercultural communication, and applied linguistics. He is the author of Synergizing Transcultural Learning of Global Englishes: Voices of Chinese Exchange Students in a Thai University (2018, ELT Education). He is the principal investigator of this research project and the corresponding author of this paper.

Alexander Trupp, Sunway University, Malaysia

Alexander Trupp is an Associate Professor at the School of Hospitality, Sunway University, Malaysia, and editor of the Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies (ASEAS). He previously worked for The University of the South Pacific, Mahidol University, and University of Vienna. His research interests include  tourism  microbusinesses,  mobilities,  Asian  tourism,  and sustainable tourism, with a regional focus on the Asia-Pacific. Alexander is the author of Migration, Micro-Business and Tourism in Thailand (2016, Routledge) and co-editor of Tourism and Development in South-East Asia (2020, Routledge).

Wilawan Niyomthong, Mahidol University, Thailand

Wilawan Niyomthong is a research assistant and postgraduate student in an MA (Language and Intercultural Communication, Language Teaching Major) Program at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand.

Prakaimook Tangcharoensathaporn, Mahidol University, Thailand

Prakaimook Tangcharoensathaporn is a research assistant and postgraduate student in an MA (Language and Intercultural Communication, Language Teaching Major) Program at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand.

Anan Charoenkongka, Mahidol University, Thailand

Anan Charoenkongka is a research assistant and postgraduate student in an MA (Language and Intercultural Communication, Language Teaching Major) Program at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand.


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How to Cite

Nomnian, S., Trupp, A., Niyomthong, W., Tangcharoensathaporn, P., & Charoenkongka, A. (2020). Language and Community-Based Tourism: Use, Needs, Dependency, and Limitations. Advances in Southeast Asian Studies, 13(1), 57–79.



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