Local developer merges culture and technology
Southern website uses creativity to sell packages to top spots
Vanpra Suebsakulajinda understands the power of brand identity and how creativity is important for his tourism website to ensure that it appeals to a wide range of people, especially the brightest young minds.
Mr Vanpra, 30, is a master's degree student at Thaksin University's Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Songkhla campus.
He is developing a tourism business with papaikhon.com as his website to introduce people to the traditions and tourist attractions in Nakhon Si Thammarat, where he was born.
Mr Vanpra's group is among 30 teams attending a tourism business training programme sponsored by the Creative Economy Agency and the Thailand Creative & Design Centre.
"I believe that innovative creative [thinkers] can help improve tourism and community businesses so the value of products can increase and generate more income," Mr Vanpra said. "That's why I applied to compete, to get the opportunity to learn about it."
He is working with his friend Suppawachakon Kesonbua, the business creator.
Mr Vanpra's team is taking the programme for three months until August. It aims to help the new generation to learn about brand identity and story-telling so they can become entrepreneurs who can use design concepts to add value to their products.
Mr Vanpra says his website papaikhon.com will be launched next month, with designs inspired by the cultural tourist attractions and traditions of Nakhon Si Thammarat province.
He is inspired by these themes because he is a native of Nakhon Si Thammarat and works in the field of arts and culture.
He said his website will inform visitors about tourism in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Currently, there are three parts to his tourism package of "Mhrab", which refers to a tray of food people in Nakhon Si Thammarat commonly use to serve offerings to monks during merit-making ceremonies for their ancestors during the annual lunar month festival, which usually falls in September or October.
Under Mr Vanpra's "Mhrab" tour package, visitors will be introduced to 12 main attractions in this southern province, including the popular Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan in Muang district. The temple is the key Buddhist temple in the province, he says, adding that visitors will learn about its history, legend and architecture.
After that, the programme introduces visitors to four secondary attractions in the province, such as Wat Chedi in Sichon district.
Finally, it will suggest visitors travel to four popular natural attractions, such as the Khiriwong village in Lan Saka district and Khanom beach in Khanom district.
"Those who are interested in this tour package in Nakhon Si Thammarat can buy it via the internet," Mr Vanpra says. "I will be a tour guide for them."
He says there will be other tour packages, and visitors can travel on their own based on the description of each package.
The price of each tour package has yet been determined, he says.
"It will be the first time in Nakhon Si Thammarat that people are offered to buy a tourism package via a website listing the description of each tourist attraction," he says.
He is optimistic that once the website is launched, people who purchase a package can visit the province and experience Nakhon Si Thammarat's culture, traditions and attractions.
Mr Vanpra says he also has an idea to create a "papaikhon" mobile application.
Mr Vanpra grew up in the province's Ban Preechathong community in Ron Phibun district, where most residents are artists who perform "Nora" and "Nang Talung", traditional shadow puppetry popular in southern Thailand.
As a result, he started learning "Nora" and "Nang Talung" when he was six years old under the guidance of his grandmother.
"Living in this community inspired me to love my community, local arts, local culture and local history," Mr Vanpra says.
He has also used his knowledge of technology and culture to assist other communities across Nakhon Si Thammarat to increase the value of their locally-made products and improve business management through the use of technology.
"Technology will play a more significant role in assisting community businesses to sell their products amid the spread of Covid-19, as people have to stay away from each other during this crisis," he says.