Program Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMUC) joins hands with Loei Rajabhat University to launch the ‘Gastro Tour Thai’ website, combining eating and traveling to elevate cultural culinary tourism in 7 regions of Thailand (GIS). This initiative, stemming from research conducted by 7 universities, aims to boost the sustainable growth of the economy. The launch took place at CentralWorld, 3rd floor, Pathumwan District, Bangkok, on July 21, 2023. Miss Sunee Lertpienthum, the Inspector-General of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation, presided over the opening ceremony of the ‘Initiative to Implement Research into Practice’ event, in collaboration with the tourism and creative economy promotion agency, PMUC, under the ‘Geographic Information System (GIS) Cultural Culinary Tourism Enhancement Project.’ They also introduced the ‘Gastro Tour Thai: Eat and Travel All in One’ website.
PMUC and Loei Rajabhat University are committed to developing the Geographic Information System (GIS) and Cultural Mapping as essential tools for connecting the systems to end-users responsible for planning, developing, and managing tourism at the regional level. This will enable efficient utilization of geographic information system and cultural mapping databases for government and private sector agencies, as well as community-based tourism ventures nationwide, with sustainable effectiveness. Furthermore, the program aims to foster collaboration networks to enhance Thailand’s long-term competitiveness in cultural culinary tourism.
Miss Sunee emphasized that to achieve sustainable development in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which emphasize creating sustainability in various aspects across 17 dimensions, one of which is continuous, comprehensive, and sustainable economic growth, is a shared responsibility of government agencies. This responsibility extends to optimizing work efficiency for the tourism and creative economy business sector. Moreover, this initiative aligns with the BCG Model concept, aimed at elevating the overall quality of life for people throughout the country, distributing opportunities, and reducing disparities effectively.
Associate Professor Dr. Thongchai Suwonsichon, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Administration and Fund Management for Enhancing National Competitiveness (BPAF), stated that the Department of Tourism, BPAF, and a team of researchers from various universities, including Rajabhat University Loei, have collaborated to create a cultural gastronomy tourism platform. This platform compiles information from cultural gastronomy tourism research in seven regions covering 12 provinces in Thailand. These provinces include Lampang, Loei, Nong Khai, Bung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Surat Thani (including Samui, Pha Ngan, and Tao), Phatthalung, Songkhla, and Nakhon Si Thammarat. This project is supported by BPAF.
Researchers from various universities have contributed their data to the Geographical Information System (GIS) to enable tourists to access cultural gastronomy tourism destinations and use maps to navigate to these locations. In addition, information is presented on the Gastrotourthai.net website to provide access to data related to dishes, restaurants, communities, and allow tourists to design their own routes. The information is available in both Thai and English, with continuous updates to support the growth of cultural gastronomy tourism in the future.
Mr. Boonserm Khankaew, Deputy Director General of the Department of Tourism, added that there are culinary demonstrations with chefs, such as Chef Jaguar Teerawee Disayachaipong of Sai and Lakeview restaurant, and the Public Relations Manager of the Thai Chef Association, presenting regional dishes as fusion cuisine, along with the owner of ‘Sakun Thong Siamese, Portuguese and Chinese cuisine restaurant’. Dishes included “Ma Ho,” “Hor Mok Dok Bua Luang,” “Prik Khing Tum Sadej,” as well as local dishes from the Nong Khai province, “Khao Loeng Maduer Mahamongkhon” and “Pla Jum Banduer Mahamongkhon,” as well as “Miang Matree” and “Kanom Khai Fish fried with Coconut Oil” from Honey Rose Herb Garden & Art from Surat Thani province. Tourists and interested individuals can follow the trail to sample these dishes by accessing information from the “Gastro Tour Thai: Eat and Travel All in One” website.
Furthermore, there is a special panel discussion titled “PMUC: Role and Mission in Enhancing National Competitiveness through Research and Innovation” chaired by Associate Professor Dr. Thongchai Suwonsichon. He mentioned that “PMUC works to elevate the country’s tourism by connecting Thai culinary culture and regional uniqueness, creating an economic impact. This is another way to make food a tool for Thailand’s soft power, to attract foreign tourists to taste Thai cuisine, to learn to cook Thai dishes, and to promote the unique culinary tradition, distinctive flavors, and warm hospitality of the Thai people, which will help us gain global recognition. Cooperation and a common vision among organizations that promote tourism, including government agencies, such as the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and private businesses in the tourism and restaurant industries, will unlock the true potential of cultural gastronomy tourism and make Thailand a global destination for food.”
In addition to these discussions, there was a panel discussion on “Perspectives, Directions, and Policies to Drive Thailand’s Cultural Gastronomy Tourism” featuring qualified experts, including Ms. Thaniwan Kulmongkol, Advisor to the President of the Tourism Industry Association of Thailand; Mr. Boonserm Khankaew, Deputy Director General of the Department of Tourism; Chef Teerawee Disayachaipong of Sai and Lakeview restaurant; and Dr. Sanchai Kiattisongchai, Director of Research and Development Institute, Rajabhat University Loei.
This event represents a significant step in enhancing Thailand’s competitiveness in cultural gastronomy tourism, through collaboration between government agencies, private sector organizations, associations, and local communities, which will be vital for the future competitiveness of the tourism industry in Thailand.