2019-2020 Colloquium Series
The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce
An Ethnographic Study on Tourism and Heritage Value in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR
Symonekeo SENSATHITH THOMAS (Ph.D)
(Former student at Rikkyo University andLecturer at National University of Laos)
Friday, 8 November 2019, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley
This research identifies the relationship between heritage and tourism based on an ethnographic study in the town of Luang Prabang in the Southeast Asia country of Lao PDR. This relationship refers to the emotional affinity derived from the cultural artifacts within the context of their traditional culture and religious practices. The main part of this research discusses tourist impressions of Buddhist religion, experienced by tourists in Luang Prabang town. In addition, this research attempts to provide a new perspective on interaction between tourists, local residents and local culture to create a 'heritage value', a new term in the field of cultural heritage tourism. This research shows how 'heritage value' contributes to the local economy by attracting tourist revenues that then sustain the local culture itself, resulting in both tourism development and heritage preservation. This research depicts the local life styles and how they utilize traditional houses, local architectures and handicrafts from variety of ethnic groups to create 'heritage value'.
Dr. Symonekeo Sensathith Thomas recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area from the People's Democratic Republic of Lao (Laos) where she served for 14 years on the faculty of social sciences of the National University of Lao as both a lecturer in the subjects of cultural tourism and international relations and as the deputy head of the research division. In 2014 she was a visiting professor at Mahidol University, Thailand, and Sejong University, South Korea. In addition to teaching, Dr. Symonekeo frequently presents papers in international conferences on World Heritage cultural sites and trains and consults for international organization including the World Bank, UNESCO and international non-governmental organizations.
Dr. Symonekeo holds a Ph.D.in Cultural Heritage Tourism from Rikkyo University, Japan (2010-2013) where her dissertation topic was: "Ethnographic Study of Heritage and Tourism in Luang Prabang, Laos". She also received a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan (2007-2009) and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, the Institute for International Relation of Vietnam (1999-2003), specialized in the field of international economics.