Elderly to host visitors
Northern Thailand has a new tourism strategy: get their elderly to host international visitors.
The idea came from the Tourism and Sports Ministry, which launched the project "Amazing Thai Host" at Chiang Mai's tourism trade fair yesterday.
More than 150 elderly in Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phrae, and Nan were invited to join the campaign last month.
The government expects the initiative will provide jobs for the aged and enable foreign tourists to experience the best Thailand has to offer in terms of hospitality and local culture, said Pongpanu Svettarundra, permanent secretary for the ministry.
Mr Pongpanu is visiting the North this week to check on the month-old project. If the pilot project goes well, the ministry will expand the scheme across the country.
"Amazing Thai Host" is also expected to boost sales of local products. This year, northern goods like herbs, hill tribe products, traditional spa and massage services, and handicrafts will be marketed to international tourists, especially older visitors.
The ministry is also collaborating with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and a host of private organisations to organise the "Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion" in Chiang Mai from yesterday to Friday.
The event brings together 361 buyers from 56 countries with tourism operators in Thailand and the Mekong subregion.
The ministry is pushing for Chiang Mai to be listed as a world cultural heritage site, putting it on equal ground with Penang in Malaysia and other historic cities.
Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn said Thailand will continue working with neighbouring countries to strengthen the tourism industry and promote Thailand as the main gateway to the Mekong region.