Thailand’s Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) has agreed to help develop community-based tourism (CBT) in Laos, Cambodia, and, possibly, Bhutan.
According to the Bangkok Post, “this will be the first time the three countries are working closely with Thailand specifically on CBT development, after joining forces on cross-border tourism, logistics and connectivity, and environment issues”.
DASTA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the tourism authorities of Luang Prabang and Xayaburi in Laos; expects to sign a similar agreement with Cambodia’s Apsara National Authority; and is talking with the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
The public organisation will provide knowledge, expertise, and business models to operators and tourism organisations in Laos and Cambodia followed by a series of community visits.
A CBT model DASTA may share with its neighbours is Ban Rai Kong Khing in Hang Dong district, Chiang Mai province.
Rai Kong Khing village won a CBT-related award in 2015 for demonstrating excellence in social, environmental and economic sustainability in tourism based on sustainable consumption and production principles. DASTA helped the village with training and in setting up tourism services such as community tours, organic food, traditional Lanna massages, and herbal products.
What is DASTA?
According to its PATA membership listing: “DASTA is a government agency which is accountable to Prime Minister, aiming to create, develop and prolong sustainable tourism in Thailand. DASTA focuses on developing tourism in designated areas, namely Chang Island and Vicinity, Pattaya City and Vicinity, Historical Parks of Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaengphet, Loei, Nan Old City, and Uthong Ancient City, in 3 dimensions – economy, society, and environment.”
In addition to offering its CBT tourism development framework and assistance to neighbouring countries, the agency has established an academy that conducts research and training and provides data and information about CBT to tourism stakeholders.
DASTA also works with UNESCO to train and certify local guides, ensuring that they have extensive knowledge of local tourism attractions, including heritage sites. The two organisations have jointly certified 53 local guides from communities near Sukhothai Historical Park in Thailand.
Featured image: Mae Luang and Paw Luang (the leaders of Ban Rai Kong Khing) welcome visitors to their village. From the Ban Rai Kong Khing Facebook page.