The Culture Ministry is expanding its role to help museums and cultural attractions to generate more revenue from Thai history and culture.
A 900-million-baht budget has been set to implement several projects in fiscal 2014 starting Oct 1 to support the move.
Culture Minister Sontaya Kunploem said the plan is a creative-economy initiative to generate revenue while preserving cultural heritage.
"The new projects will link culture, community and the environment with commercial activities," he said.
Until now, the 10-year-old ministry served only social purposes. Some of the projects will be implemented next year.
The government has set a tourism revenue target of 2.2 trillion baht in 2015, but cultural and eco-tourism could bring even more revenue to the country, Mr Sontaya said.
"We've learned some good lessons from Unesco and the EU about cultural and eco-tourism management," he said.
This year, the pilot project is the improvement of Wiang Kum Kam, underground city ruins in Chiang Mai. Once it is completed, Wiang Kum Kam will be promoted as a new cultural site with various activities to be held between this October and next April.
The ministry expects the project will attract 595,000 visitors and generate 298 million baht in tourism revenue. Communities around Wiang Kum Kam could enjoy two-thirds of the revenue.
Next, the ministry will compile a database for cultural and eco-tourism as well as historical places. Tourism maps highlighting cultural sites will also be made.
Mr Sontaya said there are 44 full-scale museums nationwide and several community ones, but few people visit them for lack of information and poor management.
The ministry is developing its IT system and will use multimedia channels such as mobile applications and QR codes to provide details and guide travellers there.
A QR code has already been made for the Sukhothai World Heritage site and Kamphaeng Phet.
Mr Sontaya said the ministry will also conduct a culture index based on visitors' opinions on each site and revenue generated from it, to be completed within a year.
"We've learned from China and New Zealand. Those two countries compile annual culture statistics showing revenue from cultural activities and opinions," he said.
The ministry also plans to organise the Otop (One Tambon One Product) for Culture fair late this year to support the government's policy of increasing income from community products to 100 billion baht this year.
Otop goods have already generated sales of 70 billion baht year-to-date.
To reduce duplicate work across ministries, Mr Sontaya said he will set up a unit to manage the projects and coordinate with other agencies.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter