The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration is taking a more aggressive role by working closely with the private sector, as the Asean Economic Community is coming up in 2015.
The 10-year-old agency is considered low-profile by the public, but it is accepted both locally and internationally as a key mechanism for developing sustainable tourism with three aspects – economic, social and environmental – Nalikatibhag Sangsnit, director-general of Dasta, said yesterday.
The agency has created a path for sustainability for tourism in the country during the rapidly changing environment. Natural and cultural resources nationwide have been turned into money for tourism growth. The work of the agency is now paying dividends, he said.
Before 2015, the agency will move even faster and be more innovative to cope with the changing tourism outlook. It will promote its promising designated areas as global tourism highlights.
Low-carbon destinations such as Mak Island and the Sukhothai World Heritage Site are examples.
Sukhothai has the greatest potential. The World Tourism Organisation says the site is a major foreign tourist destination, with more than 25 million wanting to visit it annually.
Dasta will work with the tour-guide association and the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association to make Thailand a hub for this kind of trip. Foreign tourists will kick off their travels here to other nations in the region. Given the niche market, the regional highlights also include Borobudur temple near Yogyakarta in Indonesia, Bagan in Myanmar, Champasak in Laos and Hoi An in Vietnam.
Sukhothai is one of the six sites that Dasta is taking care of. About 40-44 areas have been studied as designated areas, but they have to be approved by the Cabinet.
A marketing plan will be added. By promoting local wisdom, valuable hand-made products will be promoted. More likely, they will be included in fashion shows or exhibitions. For sustainable tourism sites, Dasta may go overseas to attend tourism marts and run its own booth for the global stage.
Thinking like a business is how the agency is adjusting, Nalikatibhag said. It will choose to work with the private sector. However, it will not invest money, but use existing resources as its equity. For example, the agency wants to set up an incinerator by providing its own land for the project’s construction.
This year, the agency will attend seven events in key global markets, aiming at not only sharing and discussing the sustainable-tourism trend, but also promoting Thailand, which has realised the trend for a long time, he said. Thailand is only nation in Asean to have a specific organisation to do this task.