In Thailand, TOURISM is definitely one of the most important industries and major sources of revenue. The major tourist centers - Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Chang, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle, Mae Hong Son and the like - continue to prosper as tourists regularly to travel to these areas and spend their monies.
Without the resources or facilities to compete with the major resort centers for the tourist dollar, small rural communities in the hinterland have to come up with alternative strategies to develop a local tourism industry. One of the most effective and healthiest strategies is ECOTOURISM. Marketing the natural beauty of the surrounding forests and the traditional arts and culture can be an effective way to build a small but very sustainable tourism industry. As the growing tourism industry depends on preserving the natural beauty and the traditional culture, there is real incentive for the community to protect the wilderness areas and forests that tourists come to explore. A real conservation ethos and a healthy respect for the environment is developed within the community. As the tourism industry develops, small local guesthouses and hotels, restaurants, cafes will be built to accommodate the increasing number of out of town visitors. In addition, artisan centers and other cultural attractions can be developed and will flourish as well. So long as the host community maintains control of the tourist product and their lands, everybody will benefit from this type of tourism development, and the environment will benefit as well. This is a model for ECOTOURISM development.
In rural Thailand, a prime example of a successful ecotourism promotion evolving is in Sa Kaeo Province, where for the 2nd consecutive year in a row, they are staging a butterfly sighting festival at Pang Sida National Park for the months of June and July. Apparently for the first year (2005) of the promotion, there a was a substantial increase in the number of visitors to Pang Sida National Park for the month of June compared to the previous year 2004. The Pang Sida National Park has gained the reputation as ‘The Realm of Butterflies of the Eastern Forests”, with more than 350 species of butterfly easily sighted. This promotion has benefited the community substantially with the increased revenue of tourism dollars and with the development of new jobs - over 40 youths from the Sa Kaeo area were trained in 2006 as qualified butterfly guides. More importantly, this butterfly festival has given the community a real incentive to protect the Park and the indigenous wildlife that lives there, as that is the resource that is bringing them the tourism dollars.
For full story on Festival: http://thailand.prd.go.th/the_focus_view.php?id=1487
Let’s hear it for Butterfly Power!