Dasta touts lake basin's tour appeal

Dasta touts lake basin's tour appeal

Communities come up with travel ideas

PHATTHALUNG: The Designated Area for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) is working with local communities along the Songkhla Lake basin to promote sustainable tourism activities in the area.

The Songkhla Lake basin covers 15 districts across three provinces -- eight of which are in Songkhla, five in Phatthalung and two in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

According to Dasta director, Athikun Kongmee, the lake basin was first chosen to become the focus of the government's sustainable tourism push back in June.

The area was picked for its abundance of natural resources, which have inspired indigenous knowledge and ways of life that must be preserved and developed into an eco-tourism destination.

In order to ensure public participation in the lake basin's development, Mr Athikun said Dasta officials closely worked with local communities to identify activities and destinations which could be developed further to attract tourists.

"Local communities know the best way to protect their own resources and heritage, so all we did was support them through the process. Their cooperation will ensure the developments in the area are sustainable," he said.

Communities around the Songkhla Lake basin have so far proposed the development of five new tourism attractions which focus on the area's heritage.

The first proposed attraction is a hiking route which takes tourists around the area's extensive paddy fields and sugar palm plantations, while the second is a guided tour along the shores of Songkhla Lake to showcase the area's traditional way of life, which is centred around raising buffalo and fishing.

The third, Mr Athikun said, is a pilgrimage route that tourists could follow to pay their respects to the late Luang Phu Thuad, one of the most revered monks in Thailand.

The fourth, he said, will allow tourists to learn traditional performances from the South, such as the Nora dance, while the last will take tourists on an educational tour of the lake's ecological systems.

Dasta expects the attractions to bring in about eight million visitors each year, generating some four billion baht of income for local communities, he said.

Other activities which Dasta is considering includes releasing shrimplets on a farm tour of Koh Mak.

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