The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is corresponding with the Royal Thai Government’s initiative to boost the incomes of local communities by promoting agro tourism, offering the chance for tourists to enjoy eco-friendly activities and a taste of rural living as well as see local handicrafts being made. The initiative also forms parts of TAT’s ongoing efforts on promoting and developing community-based tourism in local destinations across the nation.
For visitors to Bangkok, TAT recommends the community-based tourism area along Mahasawat Canal, which is known locally as “Khlong Mahasawat” in Nakhon Pathom, about 30 km west of the Thai capital. Visitors to the area will be able to tour orchards and rice paddies, and visit local orchid farms to get a unique insight into Thai life.
The area around Khlong Mahasawat marked out for agro tourism is famous for its fruit orchards, rice paddies, orchid plantations and lotus ponds. Tourists can explore these by taking a six-seater, long-tail boat from Wat Suwannaram to visit the lotus ponds farm and take a smaller boat out into the flooded fields themselves to watch the pickers collecting flowers. They can take tractor rides around the local orchards before trying organic local fruits and meeting local producers.
The community-learning centre at Ban Saladin allows visitors to see how local dishes are made including brown rice crackers topped with sweetened pork and salted duck eggs. Another stop on the boat trip is the nearby orchid farm where the colourful flowers are grown for export. This aligns well with TAT’s community-based tourism objectives in helping to spread tourist’s spending to the locals.
Dr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “This is a wonderful way for tourists to discover a simple way of Thai rural life at a location just over an hour’s drive from Bangkok. Farming communities such as those along Khlong Mahasawat are the backbone of Thai society and help grow some of the products we think of as uniquely Thai; such as, orchids, lotus flowers, rice and tropical fruits. By visiting these places, tourists will gain an insight into Thai culture and the chance to get amazing products, while farmers enjoy a boost to their incomes.”
Khlong Mahasawat is one of the four pilot agro tourism destinations launched in August last year under the three-phase agro tourism master plan for 2015-2017 by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (Thailand launches four pilot agro tourism destinations). The project targets agro tourism attractions in TAT’s designated 12 Hidden Gems destinations due to their uniqueness and readiness to welcome tourists as well as the potential to spearhead the number of tourists from key destinations. Three other pilot agro tourism destinations are Pak Phanang in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ban Khok Muang in Buri Ram, and Khao Kho in Phetchabun.
The agro tourism project is targeting both domestic and international travellers in a bid to attract quality tourists to the country as well as help to educate people about rural lifestyles while helping protect the environment and preserve traditional communities up and down the kingdom.