Khung Bang Kachao preens its tourist feathers

Khung Bang Kachao preens its tourist feathers

DASTA helps locals get sustainable ventures off the ground

Khung Bang Kachao (Bang Kachao Bend), the green expanse dubbed Bangkok’s lungs, is to be declared a special sustainable tourism area that provides optimum benefits to residents, largely thanks to cooperation between the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) and local communities there. 

Khung Bang Kachao is hugged by the Chao Phraya River and surrounding districts in Bangkok and neighbouring Samut Prakan. It is full of natural resources kept intact by local communities with a unique culture and local food made from ingredients drawn from their backyard gardens. 

Gp Capt Athikun Kongmee, Director-General of DASTA, said the project aims to develop sustainable tourism in Khung Bang Kachao.

It allows local participation and creates community awareness about protecting and preserving resources under the concept of sustainable development. 

“DASTA will this year declare Khung Bang Kachao as a special zone for sustainable tourism with an aim of elevating its tourism standards,” he said. 

Sustainable tourism can be achieved by adopting the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for Destinations (GSTC-D), he said. 

DASTA has been working closely with local communities in Khung Bang Kachao for four years to turn the area into a sustainable tourism zone. The project, funded with a budget of six million baht by the Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI), will be completed in June.

The ultimate aim is to encourage local communities to set up their own Community-Based Tourism (CBT) initiatives for reaching sustainable development. “We are trying to turn Khung Bang Kachao into a sustainable tourism area so it can participate in the Green Destination Top 100 competition.

“Cooperation from stakeholders is the key to success. Financial support from the TSRI is also a crucial step to achieving the goal of turning Khung Bang Kachao into a sustainable tourism area,” he said.

Assoc Prof Patamawadee Pochanukul, President of TSRI, said,“The institute has provided funds to any research or activity that can answer the country’s goals, especially in terms of sustainable development goals concerning society, the economy and the environment, including strengthening stakeholder participation.”

She added that Khung Bang Kachao is regarded as the largest green area nearest the capital with over 12,000 rai, full of biological diversity and boasting traditional ways of life.

However, Khung Bang Kachao now faces many problems caused by crowded tourism activities and a declining number of green areas caused by city expansion.

DASTA and “Our Khung Bang Kachao” project under the Chaipattana Foundation and its partners are working together to help solve the problem. They hope to empower locals so they can manage their own tourism resources.

“We granted funding in the hope we could finally develop international standards of sustainable tourism development under close cooperation from stakeholders,” she said.

“We also want to see a variety of product developments representing community uniqueness, which helps create value.” 

Sompong Rasmidatta, 55, Acting Chief of the Network of Tourism Promotion by Community in Khung Bang Kachao, said six communities in Khung Bang Kachao have been closely working with DASTA to create their own tourism ventures.

DASTA helps locals brush up their skills to run their own tourism-related business. It also provides a wide range of training programmes for locals to learn about sustainable tourism. They include culinary arts, communication techniques and business management, he said. 

Mr Sompong said development of a strong network is key to supporting tourism growth in these communities. “We get incomes and distribute benefits from the project equally,” he said. 

Mr Sompong described how people in the local communities could enjoy their benefits equally from sustainable tourism.

In a trip to Khung Bang Kachao, tourists could enjoy a boat trip in one community and after that they could try local dishes and get a Thai massage or spa treatment at other communities in the area. The money spent by the tourists circulates among the network’s members, he said. 

Khung Bang Kachao also provides visitors with a learning centre for farming practice based on His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great’s sufficiency economy philosophy where they could experience green farming in a way that is good for their environment and health, he said. 

He said his network is trying to promote a “signature dish” in each community where the ingredients are drawn from local backyard gardens. Local food made from these ingredients and local vegetables is sold to tourists. 

“We have worked with DASTA for four years, resulting in great success. People are happy with the benefits they derive from the tourism business. DASTA has shown us we really do need to improve our local businesses. We believe we are on the right track for reaching sustainable tourism as we can now rely on ourselves,” he said.

www.dasta.or.th



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