Dasta backs handout scheme

Dasta backs handout scheme

Communities urged to join programme

Tham Luang cave, where 13 young footballers were trapped last year, has become a popular attraction in Chiang Rai. (Photo by Supot Buranaprapapong)
Tham Luang cave, where 13 young footballers were trapped last year, has become a popular attraction in Chiang Rai. (Photo by Supot Buranaprapapong)

The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) is urging local communities to join the 1,000-baht cash handout scheme for local tourists.

The scheme allows for travel to both big and small cities, raising concerns among communities about whether the policy would efficiently distribute income to rural areas, said Thaweebhong Wichaidit, Dasta's director-general.

He said Dasta will urge operators that run community-based tourism companies to speed up offering tourism products to the market. The agency now supervises roughly 80 of the total 700 communities in Thailand.

Mr Thaweebhong said operators need to register from Aug 28 to Sept 20 to join the tourism stimulus programme. Operators must install Krungthai Bank's Thung Ngern Pracharat machines for transactions.

Last week, Dasta awarded 10 communities and a tourism operator the Sustainable Tourism Management Standard (STMS). The winners were operators in Chiang Rai, including Chiang Rai municipality, Nang Lae municipality, Mae Yao municipality and New Chiang Saen Group.

A total of 49 operators have received STMS, a standard developed by Dasta in 2016 and approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Mr Thaweebhong said Dasta will push for the establishment of the Chiang Saen special area project by next year.

The agency is seeking 1.3 billion baht in budget for next year's operation, up from 424 million baht this year, in order to improve capability for Sukhothai province, which has been nominated to compete as the Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN) City of Crafts and Folk Arts for 2019 alongside Bangkok.

The additional budget will also be used to improve Nan and Suphan Buri to prepare the provinces to enter the competition in two years.

Tourism in Chiang Rai is on the rise, and the province expects to attract 4 million tourists this year, contributing 30 billion baht, gains of 5% and 7% respectively, said Sert Chaiyananta, director of Chiang Rai's tourism and sports office.

He said at least 10 events will be managed over the rest of the year to draw more visitors. Some highlights include Bangkok Airways' Chiang Rai Half Marathon, Singha Ultra-Trail Chiang Rai and AirAsia's Kilorun Chiang Rai.

Wat Rong Khun (also known as the White Temple), one of the province's landmarks, owned and designed by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, will join Index Creative Village Plc to put on the Wat Rong Khun Light Fest for the first time.

Meanwhile, Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district is a popular destination, attracting about 10,000 visitors daily during the last high season. The volume drops to 2,000 a day during the rainy season but is expected to grow again in the peak season, Mr Sert said.

Moreover, tourists who visit Chiang Rai also enjoy Wat Huayplakang, Doi Mae Salong and Thawan Duchanee's Baandam Museum.

Mr Sert said the office will seek a 300-million-baht budget next fiscal year, up from 100 million baht this year, for development of the tourism sector.

Last year, about 3.3 million people visited Chiang Rai, contributing 26 billion baht in tourism income.

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