State allots B6bn for community tourism
Target is 10,000 regions nationwide
The government looks set to earmark about 6 billion baht to develop and upgrade tourism communities this year, part of a strategy to raise income for people in the provinces.
Rakpong Sengcharoen, head of the National Village and Urban Community Office, said his agency already proposed to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) such a budget to develop 10,000 new tourism communities and upgrade existing ones.
The tourism community development plan is part of a 40-billion-baht budget the office sought approval for from the NESDC, a portion of the 400-billion-baht budget the government set aside for economic and social rehabilitation.
Around 10,000 tourism communities have yet to meet tourism standards and need an upgrade. The agency also plans to develop tourism routes, tourism signposts, road access and facilities for those communities.
"Many Village Funds nationwide have the potential to develop their own community tourism, which will create direct benefits for their own villagers," said Mr Rakpong.
He said a tourism community will play a significant role in developing the local economy and creating jobs, particularly for those who were left unemployed because of the pandemic as well as new graduates.
"The 79,604 Village Funds with 12.9 million members are considered the backbone of communities nationwide. The government is ready to support them to create a network not only for travelling but also production technique exchange and product purchases," said Mr Rakpong.
He said the office will encourage Village Fund members to travel more in tourism communities over the next three months.
"We could boost the number of domestic travellers to almost 40 million people if members of the Village Funds travel together," said Mr Rakpong.
Village Funds have already teamed up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to develop villages that have potential as tourism destinations, he said.
TAT plans to help design programmes for tourism communities, said Mr Rakpong.
Prasert Phakdi, head of Baan Bon Doi, Khao Thalu tambon, Sawi district in Chumphon province, said community tourism helps generate income for his hometown and create jobs for the younger generation who returned home after graduation.
Village Fund members of Baan Bon Doi implemented their own tourism community in 2017, with a goal to generate more income for the local economy.
The tourism community offers tents for rent and homestay services for visitors to Baan Bon Doi. The highlight there is Doi Tapang, the sea of mist viewpoint of Chumphon.
"You don't need to travel to the North to see mountain views," said Mr Prasert.
"At Doi Tapang we offer a sea of mist and beautiful scenery."
Some 20,000 people visited Baan Bon Doi's tourism community in 2019, with the number expected to reach 30,000 this year.
During the first four months this year, the community drew fewer visitors because of the viral outbreak.
He said the Village Fund also supported members buying vehicles to take visitors to Doi Tapang for 500 baht per round trip.
There are 14 of such pickups offering services to visitors.
Coffee shops that use Robusta-Khao Thalu coffee, a well-known brand from Chumphon, have been established in the tambon after the tourism community was initiated.
Chumphon governor Viboon Rattanapornwong said the province will focus on promoting domestic tourism to generate income after the drop in foreign visitors.
The province fetched 7.63 billion baht in tourism revenue last year from a total of 3 million visitors, 2.2 million of whom were foreign visitors.