'Little Tuscany' closes down as Khao Yai tourism struggles

'Little Tuscany' closes down as Khao Yai tourism struggles

Palio Khao Yai is quiet as it temporarily closes its door until new investors take over the property. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)
Palio Khao Yai is quiet as it temporarily closes its door until new investors take over the property. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: The decision by the picturesque Palio complex to shut its doors could be a precursor of more closures of businesses dependent on tourists visiting scenic Pak Chong district, a senior tourism official warned on Thursday

Palio Khao Yai's Tuscan-style village has long surprised and delighted visitors.

The scenic shopping centre shut its doors on March 22, and remains closed even though the government has since eased travel restrictions and reopened all national parks.

Its Facebook page did not carry any messages about the closure, but a post on the “Korat Next Step” Facebook page on Tuesday said it will return under new investors.

Rungtip Bookkhuntod, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand office in Nakhon Ratchasima, on Wednesday confirmed the closure, saying the owners were waiting for a takeover.

After opening in 2009, Palio Khao Yai quickly became a popular landmark for visitors to take photos, shop and eat in "little Tuscany".

Palio was built by Vinai Dhadasih and his friends, including sport commentator Pitsanu Nilklad.  It was reportedly sold to Bliss Property in 2011.

Ms Rungtip said she expected some shops, hotels and attractions in the area at the foot of Khao Yai in Pak Chong to follow Palio's footsteps and close down, because the Covid-19 outbreak continued to erode the confidence of travellers. (continues below)

Tourism authorities are preparing measures to  draw tourists to Nakhon Ratchasima. (Video by Jetjaras Na Ranong)

The official hoped tourism packages launched this month by the Tourism and Sports Ministry will woo more people to travel to local destinations, including Khao Yai, to revitalise the slumping tourism sector.

Tawisan Lonanurak, former secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce Northeastern Chapter, said on Thursday the end of Palio shocked residents in the province. It was a magnet for tourists travelling to Khao Yai.

But he still believed other businesses near Khao Yai would survive, due to its proximity to Bangkok, only about 200 kilometres distant. A new motorway from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and the planned high-speed train connecting the two cities would make visits to visit Khao Yai more convenient, he said.

The new expressway is nearly finished   and should be open by the end of this year.


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