[Conference presentation] Presented a paper at the World Luxury Destinations 2018 Conference
Dr. Amnaj Khaokhrueamuang from Center for Tourism Research (CTR) at Wakayama University presented his research at the World Luxury Destinations 2018 Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand between 1st and 2nd March, 2018.
Koyasan’s Temple Lodging as a Japanese Luxury Destination in the Regional Cities: Perspectives from Thai Tourists
Koyasan, a part of sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii mountain range of Wakayama prefecture, has recently become a sudden bloom in foreigners visiting the Japan’s regional cities to experience the Esoteric Buddhism and stay in Japanese temples, especially after the designation as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. 117 temples in Koyasan, 52 operate as temple lodgings or “shukubo,” providing the “shojin ryori”, the unique vegetarian Buddhist cuisine - the highlights attracting international tourists. Westerners account for the largest portion, while Asian tourists, particularly from Thailand are hardly seen although the number of Thai tourists in Japan continues growing every year. This study attempts to promote the Koyasan’s temple lodging to Thai visitors by studying opinions and attitudes of Thai tourists to understand the perspectives on marketing. The sampling was composed of two groups staying one night at Yochi-in temple between September and November 2017. Studying opinions was conducted by the interview with group 1 comprising 10 professionals in tourism and hotel. The study of attitudes was administrated by the pre and post-staying questionnaires to 25 participants interested in religious and food. Results revealed that Koyasan’s temple lodging offered luxurious experience to Thai tourists in many perspectives. First is the sacred landscape and temple surroundings. Second is the Buddhism related activities including having the shojin ryori, participating the morning chant ceremony, and sleeping in the Japanese style rooms. The third is worth and benefit from learning new things. Also, there are points in contradictions with the opinions and attitudes between the two groups. They are the decoration of guest rooms, the shared-bathroom, and the inspiration of start practicing the dharma. This contrast resulted in the difference in demographic background and interests of tourists which can propose perspectives on marketing the niche market of Thai tourists. The study suggests that targeting Thai visitors should specify on high-end repeat tourists who are familiar with Japanese culture and interested in religious, food, and culinary arts such as monks, Buddhist pilgrims and volunteers, vegetarians, food artists and producers, even educated farmers.
The World Luxury Destinations 2018 Conference was the first of its kind to bring industry professionals and researchers from academia together to exchange ideas, share findings, promote innovations and extend the knowledge boundary on luxury tourism. Many destinations try to attract visitors by giving meaningful experiences from the ordinary to the extra ordinary which is the definition of luxury tourism. (Source: Official website)
◆World Luxury Destinations 2018 Conference Official website http://www.wld2018.com/