A Gold Award 2012 for Heritage and Culture has been given to Na Ton Chan Community. Villagers keep traditional natural cotton dyeing methods going whilst also running a successful homestay program, so that visitors from all over the world can experience the real Thai country lifestyle, from weaving, to cooking Thai classic dishes, and soaking up the atmosphere of this unique community and village life as they amble through what might seem like a different age.
Sukhothai is also a winner in the Environment-Ecotourism category too with its interesting Organic Agriculture Project at Sukhothai Airport. The owner of Bangkok Airways designated some of the unutilized airport land to create a working farm that supplies rice, fruit and vegetables grown organically without any pesticides or chemicals. Visitors can experience the life of rice farmers by working alongside them in the paddy fields, as part of a scheme which includes riding and harnessing buffalo in the fields and learning about organic farming.
The idea behind the project was to promote nature and health in Thailand. The project gives back to nature and creates a working example in sustainable farming and involved, interactive tourism. Sukhothai’s two Gold Awards 2012 emphasize the importance of experience tourism, where visitors to Thailand can totally immerse themselves in a country lifestyle, whilst learning about the culture and the history of the country from firsthand experience. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is certainly proud of the PATA accolades.
“Winning these two Gold Awards is tremendous recognition of the TAT’s focus on encouraging more environmentally-responsible tourism and the development of community-based tourism that allows visitors to experience Thai culture up close while providing direct benefits to communities in Thailand,” says TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni.
Sukhothai’s rich history as an independent Thai kingdom in the 13th century has ensured it is firmly on the tourist trail for those seeking the cultural highlights of Thailand. The old town with the Sukhothai Historical Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The whole region is renowned as an agricultural area where traditional arts and skills still exist. It is a part of Thailand that some visitors only get to glimpse if they are lucky, whereas sustainable projects that involve visitors in a positive way, for the benefit of individual programs, those people whose livelihoods depend on them, and Thai tourism, are worthy of recognition.
PATA Gold Awards set industry standards for excellence and innovation and are judged by tourism experts. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a non-profit membership association that acts as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism within the Asia Pacific region. Na Ton Chan Community and the Organic Agriculture Project are clear examples of tourism that welcomes visitors whilst respecting and integrating with the land, culture and lifestyles found in this beautiful part of Thailand.