Food and friend­ship...

Viet Nam News - - ONE DESTINATION -

An­other sea par­adise, Maya Bay in Thai­land's south­ern prov­ince of Krabi, has been closed since June last year.

Ac­cord­ing to The Na­tion news­pa­per, at first au­thor­i­ties an­nounced a tem­po­rary clos­ing for four months. Then the re­stric­tions were an­nounced to re­main un­til the ecosys­tem "fully re­cov­ers to a nor­mal sit­u­a­tion".

Un­like Manila, Bangkok had been re­luc­tant to shut down the area for years due to tourism rev­enue of $12.5 mil­lion a year.

The golden sands and blue wa­ters sur­rounded by cliffs on Ko Phi Phi Leh Is­land have been among the most pop­u­lar in the coun­try since The Beach star­ring Leonardo Di­Caprio was re­leased in 2000.

The area re­ceived up to 5,000 tourists and 200 boats a day. The mass tourism has re­sulted in se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion and dam­age to the lo­cal coral reefs.

Food for thought

At an ASEAN tourism min­is­ters' meet­ing held last year in Chi­ang Mai, Thai­land, par­tic­i­pants em­pha­sized the need to ex­pand the group's tourism prod­ucts through col­lab­o­ra­tive ar­range­ments with part­ners.

They also tar­geted gas­tron­omy as a key driver to achieve in­clu­sive­ness and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment for lo­cal agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers and chefs and to re-con­nect ru­ral and ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments.

A joint dec­la­ra­tion on gas­tron­omy tourism was signed recog­nis­ing the in­te­gral role that gas­tron­omy plays in build­ing com­pet­i­tive des­ti­na­tion brands.

"Gas­tro­nomic tourism helps to cre­ate a strong sense of place for brand­ing and mar­ket­ing des­ti­na­tions, and also as­sists in main­tain­ing and pre­serv­ing lo­cal her­itage and iden­tity and pro­tect­ing bio­di­ver­sity," said the dec­la­ra­tion.

The no­tion of her­itage and iden­tity through food is re­lated to var­i­ous sources and can be seen at lo­cal buf­fets at lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels to food stalls in the streets in cap­i­tals of mem­ber na­tions.

ASEAN is among the most fer­tile agri­cul­tural bas­kets in the world. The lat­est sta­tis­tics from the ASEAN Sec­re­tariat show the re­gion pro­duced over 214 mil­lion tonnes of rice, 158 mil­lion tonnes of sug­ar­cane, 87 mil­lion tonnes of cas­sava, 43 mil­lion tonnes of maize, and 1.5 mil­lion tonnes of soy­bean in 2016.

The im­pres­sive num­ber of tourists to the re­gion has urged agen­cies to im­ple­ment var­i­ous ini­tia­tives and in­fra- struc­ture to boost gas­tro­nomic tourism.

The ASEAN Food and Cul­tural Fes­ti­val was held in Hoà Chí Minh City in Sep­tem­ber 2017 draw­ing crowds of tourists from the re­gion and be­yond.

The ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the city's Women's Union or­gan­ised the event to cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of ASEAN.

In Malaysia, lo­cal cui­sine has been cru­cial in mar­ket­ing tourism.

The coun­try's In­ter­na­tional Durian Cul­tural Tourism Fes­ti­val has be­come an an­nual fair.

Lonely Planet recog­nised Pe­nang as one of the world's top 10 food des­ti­na­tions in 2014.

Thai­land was an early prac­tiser in gas­tro-diplo­matic prin­ci­ples.

The "Global Thai" cam­paign kicked off in 2002 aim­ing to spread Thai food around the world. The Thai gov­ern­ment has not only tried to draw tourists to the coun­try, but has also tried to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for Thai and in­ter­na­tional chefs to cook Thai food.

Show time:Res­i­dents in the Thaùi Haûi Stilt House Preser­va­tion Eco­log­i­cal Tourism Vil­lage per­form pup­petry to en­ter­tain tourists. VNS Photo Nguyeãn Hieáu

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