Over the past 30 years, tourism is considered increasingly by the government and its proponents an important source of income and employment for many developing countries, including Thailand. At the same time, several studies, nonetheless, reveal negative social, cultural and environmental impacts of tourism on the local communities. Apart from debates on tourism, an emerging alternative form of tourism so called “Creative Tourism” is recently introduced in Thailand by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organization) or DASTA. Since it emphasizes on authenticity of the community, value creation of everyday culture such as lifestyle, local wisdom, art and history, creative tourism offers tourists interactive experiences with the local hosts and opportunity to learn new skills through various activities such as workshops. Consequently, this creates cross-cultural experience and deep understanding of the communities. Considering on the supply side, creative tourism also benefits the local communities as it helps preserving culture and creates awareness among local people.This paper explores creative tourism concept and examines how Thailand adopts this concept compared to the Western world. Sukhothai province, one of the designated areas for implementing creative tourism model in Thailand, is selected as a case study. The paper suggests that, appropriately managed, creative tourism can be an important mechanism in creating and maintaining sustainable rural communities in Thailand.
Keywords: Sustainable rural community, creative tourism, Thailand