The special forum for buyers held on the first day of the Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+) during 3-5 June, 2015, in Bangkok, has received a high turnout, attracting more than 360 buyers.
Organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the TTM+ 2015 brought international tour operators, travel agents and destination management managers from 50 countries up to speed with a special forum that tied in with the trade show’s theme, “Experience with Us” and reflected the idea that travellers want to “experience” and learn something new to satisfy a deeper need for participation, creativity, community, and idealism
Addressing buyers attending the forum, Mr. Pongsathorn Kessasamli, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing Asia and South Pacific said, “The two speakers, Mr. Somsak Boonkam, founder and CEO of Local Alike and Dr. Poll Theeraprappisit, have joined TAT in showcasing how international tourists and travellers can discover Thainess first-hand by experiencing the Thai way of life the unique way through creative tourism projects and activities that are set to lead to sustainability of local communities.”
Local Alike, which prides itself as a social enterprise that bridges the gap between local communities and world’s travellers through an online tourism platform, offers a meaningful and authentic Thainess experience for both tourists and local villagers. Some of the tour programmes have included a day as a fisherman in Bangkok’s San Taw Community, a day as an artisan in Chiang Mai’s Wua Lai Village, and a Mae Salong Homestay in bamboo dwellings on the hill.
Mr. Somsak Boonkam, founder and CEO of Local Alike said, “Of the total package price, 70 per cent would go to villagers and 30 per cent would cover our operation and marketing costs, and of the profit we gain, five per cent would go to what we call a social development fund for the communities we work with because our aim is to create tourism for sustainability of the community. We don’t ask the community to build new facilities to cater to tourists instead we select communities that are ready to embrace tourists to experience their way of life in their unique way.”
Buyers were also enriched with knowledge about the importance of ‘rice’ in the Thai way of life as Dr. Poll Theerapappisit walked the audiences through the Thai rice cultures and how they interconnect with other local traditions and rituals in a series of inspiring video documentaries. He also introduced the ‘Rice Route of Thailand’, the new food tourism journey that is designed to showcase to the world creative community-based agro-tourism as well as the creativity of Thai food’s cultural diversity as a unique Thai way of life.
The sample the ‘Thai Rice Route’ programme highlights the Thai rice culture in the Northern and Central Regions, including Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri and Bangkok. Apart from agro-tourism, the proposed programme also features traditions and cultures unique to each destination; such as, Thai arts in local temples, and Thai wisdom and Thai way of life in local ethnic communities.