Thailand’s Ministry if Culture is increasing its role in assisting the Kingdom’s museums and other cultural attractions to generate more revenue from Thai history and culture.
According to The Bangkok Post, a budget of THB900 million (US$27.7 million) has been allocated to support several projects that will begin in October 2013 and Sontaya Kunploem, Thailand's Culture Minister says the plan focuses on a creative-economy initiative that will preserve heritage sites.
“The new projects will link culture, community and the environment with commercial activities,” he told the Bangkok Post, adding that he believed eco and cultural tourism could attract more revenue than the government’s current target of THB2.2 trillion (US$67.9 billion) for 2015.
This year’s pilot project will focus on Wiang Kum Kam, the underground city ruins in Chiang Mai. Once the project is completed, various activities will be held at the site between this October and April 2014 to attract visitors. The project is expected to attract 595,000 tourists and create THB298 million (US$9 million) in revenue.
Koh Samui and Phuket are also home to a number of cultural heritage sites that attract high numbers of visitors each year. Phuket’s Old Town, for example, boasts a variety of Chinese and Thai Buddhist temples and shrines, as well as some beautifully renovated shophouses and a museums. Much of the town’s historical appeal also comes from the fact that it served as a major tin mining centre in the early 20th century and the tin mining museum in Kathu is popular with visitors who want to learn a little more about the town’s past.
Koh Samui’s cultural highlights include the much photographed Big Buddha temple with its 12 metre high statue, which is located on a small island just off Samui’s north-eastern coast. Wat Phra Yai, as it is known in the local community, was built in 1972, and the golden statue is one of the first things that can be spotted by visitors arriving to the island by air. The body of a mummified monk at Wat Khunaram has also become big draw for visitors who want to gain an insight into Thai Buddhist culture. The monk, Luang Pordaeng, died in a meditative position in 1973, and his body has been on display at the temple ever since.
The Ministry of Culture also has plans to create a database for cultural, eco-tourism and historical hotspots across the country, in addition to creating an IT system that will use multimedia channels and mobile applications to provide information for travellers.
Thailand's culture index will based on visitor’s feedback and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. "“We’ve learnt from China and New Zealand, said the Culture Minister. "Those two countries compile annual culture statistics showing revenue from cultural activities and the opinions of visitors.”