Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organization)

Getting “Southern Islands and Andaman Sea” Ready for Tourists

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          There is no denial that the beauty of the Andaman Sea and islands in the south of Thailand is a giant magnet that attracts both Thai and foreign tourists to visit Thailand. Nonetheless, one of the most challenging questions is how to educate and encourage local people to protect and cherish these natural resources while welcoming the tourists so that this wonderful nature can stay with us and our children for the years to come.

         This is a challenging task that the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organization) or DASTA needs to successfully manage and overcome because a lack of effective management may negatively impact local communities, natural resources and the environment.

          Dr. Chumpol Musikanon, deputy director of DASTA, has revealed that there are 5 provinces in the tourism development area of the Andaman Sea and southern islands which are Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Satun, and Trang. DASTA is working as an assistant secretary to the Tourism Development Committee in the Andaman Sea area. The Committee has endorsed to implement DASTA’s community-based tourism (CBT Thailand) strategic plan as a guideline to develop tourism in the communities.


Dr. Chumpol Musikanon

          DASTA has collaborated with the Tourism and Sports Division of Phuket to visit the local communities and gather the information in order to develop their potentials for the community-based tourism. A tool that DASTA has used to perform assessments is a 5 criteria for the community-based tourism development which, in total, cover 100 sub-topics. These criteria are based upon the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) with objectives to develop tourism for the greater benefits of the communities and to decrease social disparities.

          The 5 criteria are comprised of the sustainable management, the economic, social, and quality of life management, the conservation of cultural heritage, the sustainable management of natural resources and environment, and the service and security management.

          Mr. Maitree Phutthawong, director of operations for DASTA office 9, has said that the DASTA office 9 is responsible for the area of the Andaman Sea and southern islands. The first step in the process is to create an awareness and an understanding to every community in the area so that everyone is on the same page of the development plan. To do this, DASTA has joined forces with its networks and associates – both in public and private sectors – as well as educational institutions to make everyone understand the objectives and benefits of the tourism development. Each collaborating agency is professional in different areas and has different responsibilities; therefore, all of them working together will certainly generate greater benefits for the communities and the country.

          The process in educating the communities to be prepared and ready to welcome the tourists has to take into account the benefits of the communities as a whole. It is very important that the tourism must not create any negative impacts or damages to the communities, especially the damages to the natural resources and the environment. In order to succeed, these 2 things should be created. First, everyone in the communities should be able to participate in the tourism development process. Second, everyone in the communities should be educated to have conscience and know how to correctly protect the natural resources and the environment.


          However, since the Andaman Sea area has yet to be announced as a designated area under DASTA, the scope of work for the organization is only to study and find the information regarding the potentials of the communities and write a report to a responsible agency to further proceed on a particular issue. Fortunately, there is a high possibility that the Andaman Sea area will be announced as DASTA’s designated area by the end of this year due to the fact that the area is close to Songkhla Lake designated area and that these two areas can work together. Once the Andaman Sea has become a designated area, DASTA will be able to take the full responsibilities and the development plans can go full steam ahead.

          Mr. Maitree has also added that from the field trips in the 5 provinces of the Andaman Sea and southern islands area, DASTA has found that these provinces are ready to welcome the tourists in terms of products and services. A focus of DASTA is not to generate the highest profits but to find a perfect balance in the development. By applying the mechanisms from the GSTC, DASTA is able to help the communities to sustainably develop and help add values for the community-based tourism while the communities can maintain their local ways of life, the natural resources and environment are protected, and the local people can earn more incomes from the tourism.