Chevron and Kenan team up with Surat Thani Province to maximize the potential of coastal local communities by introducing a sustainable tourism project to experience the coastal way of life with the aims of balancing the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of a community. The project will be implemented in 10 coastal communities and is expected to generate more equal income distribution.
Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production Ltd. and Kenan Institute of Asia recently signed a collaborative agreement on “Sustainable Tourism Project along the Surat Thani Coastline” joined by Surat Thani Provincial Administrative Organization, Surat Thani Tourism, Prince of Songkla University, Surat Thani Rajabhat University, and Association of Surat Thani Tourism Operators. The aims are to improve the quality of life and well-being of the local communities, enhance the local art, culture, and environment, and particularly, enable 10 coastal communities to become sustainable quality tourist destinations.
Mrs. Hathairat Atichart, Manager, Policy, Government & Public Affairs, Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production Ltd., disclosed: “The Sustainable Tourism Project Along the Surat Thani Coastline aims at strengthening the potential of community-based tourism in Surat Thani, generating public awareness of such potential, and simultaneously inculcating the environmental protection consciousness and preservation of local culture and way of life through tourism development network building within the communities in order to achieve income equality and well-balanced employment in the province.”
“Such collaboration between governmental and private sectors aims to develop strategy for sustainable local community tourism and raise the bar of local community tourism management, which will not only generate more income but also strengthen the local economy. Surat Thani was chosen as the pilot province due to its well-rounded tourism potential in terms of community-based tourism and various cultural and environmental tourist destinations.”, Mrs. Hathairat added.
Mr. Piyabutr Cholvijarn, President of Kenan Foundation Asia, disclosed about overall operation. “The Project aims at implementing activities for 22 months. As part of the collaboration, joined by representatives from governmental and private sectors including 10 coastal communities, Kenan will help to enhance the local
Communities’ potentials in 3 areas: To build a working network for all participants, to create a better understanding and a shared vision on local community tourism development, and to develop tourism management competencies. This includes the use of infrastructure management to provide quality support for tourists, implementation of cost management, and new package tour designs to better serve the demand of targeted tourists. These are achieved by knowledge-based trainings, planning, and co-operating with all participating working bodies.
“Participating communities were chosen based on the capacity in terms of area and the quality of local people, such as, the competency of infrastructure and leaders, the attractiveness and diversity of tourist attractions, etc. The rollout phase covers 6 local communities which will be divided into 3 clusters of travelling distance and tourist destination. After the test result, 4 remaining communities will be implemented. During the initial period, more than 4,000 people are expected to benefit from the project. In the end they will be able to create opportunities for self-sufficiency economy in terms of profession and income whilst still maintaining the local way of life, art, culture, and environment. This will also help to cultivate community consciousness in youngsters and therefore reduce the risk of relocation.”
Mr. Suphawat Sakda, Vice Governor of Surat Thani Province, added “Despite its strong potential as a tourist destination with a diverse range of natural and cultural attractions, Surat Thani is still facing the problem in sustainable local community tourism since tourists generally prefer travelling around the islands to visiting local communities along the coastline, partly due to lack of tourist information and insufficient public utility and transportation at some coastal tourist destinations which has led to economic disparity. Therefore, this collaboration will not only be advantageous for coastal community and tourism in the province, but also help to reinforce Surat Thani’s vision as the leader in quality tourism.”
Mr. Chakrit Chenguan, Acting Chief of Tourism and Sports Bureau Surat Thani, also commented. “Surat Thani has several major ecotourism destinations. Apart from enjoying the natural beauty and visiting temples, people and tourists can wander around local communities that are famous for their local wisdom in handicraft products, including some outstanding agricultural communities. With a well-planned strategic operation management and good publicity from all participated parties in tourism business from governmental and private sectors, I am convinced that community-based tourism will be widely known and attract more tourists. In the future, pilot communities participating in this project will serve as a good example for self-sufficiency economy at the end of the project.