The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to promote Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province as a key attraction after its time in the global spotlight, which climaxed with the final rescue of the missing soccer team on Tuesday night.
Karuna Dechatiwong, director of TAT’s Chiang Rai office, said the agency will work with local authorities and the private sector to promote the cave and other attractive nearby venues as it anticipates a number of tourists will flock to the area in the near future.
“After the rescue team found the 12 young soccer players and their coach last week, the cave has become of interest for both local and foreign travelers,” Karuna said.
She said people may want travel and activity information before visiting the area, and the agency is ready to work out a route to the cave and other destinations in Chiang Rai.
The tranquil and beautiful cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai district is suited to the summer season, but permission from authorities is needed before entering in the rainy season.
Initially, TAT is considering creating a new route not only to promote the cave but also nearby communities such as a village that makes mulberry tree paper, an Isan Lanna community, and a community that produces seed tea.
All the communities are located along the road in between Chiang Rai town and Mae Sai on the border with Myanmar.
TAT will ask local administrations to prepare tourism management, improve safety standards and upgrade services, she said.
The promotion of Chiang Rai province as an adventure destination was also floated by Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat and Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osot-Thanakorn.
The two also talked with hotels and transport companies in Chiang Rai to arrange an appreciation trip specifically for the rescue teams.
TAT Chiang Rai reported the province attracted 2.7 million tourists last year and generated tourism income of nearly 30 billion baht (US$905 million).
The number of visitors is expected to increase gradually as the province also plans to promote elderly tourism along with adventure and cross-border tourism.
Earlier this year, the renovated river port in Chiang Saen was opened to serve higher demand from southern China.