By SUCHAT SRITAMA
Nalikatibhag Sangsnit, director-general of Dasta, said last week that the Baan Rai Gong King community was one of its 13 community-based tourism development sites.
Baan Rai Gong King was recently recognised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association as an inspired award winner for a small community that has turned around from an unhealthy community to a “health and wellness” destination.
The community was selected for gastronomic tourism research commissioned by the Thailand Research Fund, aimed at designing living interpretation through food. “By implementation of the locals’ life and their heritage, gastronomic tourism has been employed as a key mechanism,” he said.
Dasta believes that local Thai food and tourism can be combined into gastro-diplomacy. Thai food is definitely more than just tom yum kung soup, phad Thai or green curry.
Nalikatibhag said food was the major economic driver particularly in the provinces, as it could create linkages among agriculture, heritage, art and tourism. Research shows that revenue generated by community-based tourism in the designated areas comes from tourists spending on food, ranged from 30-40 per cent per capita spending.
“Food ingredients procured from outside the community could account for 40-50 per cent of costs if there’s no management. “The study indicates that using local ingredients could distribute income to the community and also reduce costs as well as save the environment,” he said.
Dasta has urged other provinces to follow this project if they’re looking for an opportunity to increase and retain this revenue within the community.
Por Luang Somsak, head of the village, said villagers have formed a group offering organic products and farm tourism under its own brand, “Suk-Siam”. People in the village have created herbal gardens and built a health centre to support the low-carbon project.