Supporting and Developing Sustainable Community Based Tourism
Thai AirAsia Co. Ltd responded to the government’s Pracharat Policy Programme, which seeks to have private operators contribute to public efforts to elevate the quality of life of communities through contextual development and with sustainability.
Thai AirAsia and the United Nations Development Programme acknowledged the importance of the policy while also seeing the growing popularity of community based tourism among both Thai and international travelers. Journey D programme was created to work with communities on developing their tourism standards. Through 2017, Thai AirAsia facilitated a network of experts on community based tourism to dispense their knowledge on 3 topics:
- Community Based Tourism Standards Enhancement and Development. Thai AirAsia worked with expert organizations to hold workshops for community tourism leaders to improve their skills in areas such as homestay standards, waste management, tourism site management, communication, pricing and capital management and activity design. A key partner was Local Alike, which designed a program for enhancing community based tourism leaders and their areas to sustainably welcome visitors in search of environmental and cultural tourism.
- Community Products Development. To create new revenue streams for communities, the programme supported the development of locally made products, emphasizing each area’s distinction and uniqueness. Products were chosen based on the capabilities of each community and help was provided in areas such as quality development, packaging and pricing. Marketing channels were also found to ensure that revenue would return to the communities. This effort was handled by Local Alike, Big Trees Group and Thai AirAsia.
- English Knowledge Enhancement through “English on Air”. Working with faculty from Chulalongkorn University, Journey D designed an English learning program specifically for community tourism operators with volunteers from within AirAsia AllStars taking on the task of relaying the lessons.
Thai AirAsia and its partner agencies made sure to choose communities ready for assistance and tourism, selecting areas based on their natural resources, community stability, unity and openness to development. The programme took place through 2017 in the four communities of Pha Mhee in Chiang Rai, Baan Kok Muang in Buriram, Khon Klang in Krabi and Phrom Lok in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
All four communities were able to establish their own Journey D community tourism commissions comprised of committees handling tourism administration, visitor coordination, homestays, food, special activities and transport. The commissions also considered the unique aspects of community products and helped to develop and design their qualities and packaging so that they could be put to market.