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 December 08, 2000
Thai Crown Princess Calls For Sustainable Tourism

 Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has called on the Thai tourism industry to ensure that the very assets that attract visitors are not destroyed by short-sighted development.

Opening a conference on "Sustainable Community Tourism Destination Management", held recently at the Asian Institute of Technology, HRH Princess Maha Chakri said:

"Tourism is a complex matter with many natural, social and economic forces to consider. Thailand has experienced both positive and negative lessons, and these are valuable for Thailand and the entire region."

"I am very glad to see that the concepts of sustainability and community development which have such potential to improve the lives of people worldwide, are being embraced by those in the tourism field."

"By convening people with diverse backgrounds to explore the theories and examples of sustainability, this conference can contribute to strengthening the region's unique cultures, heritage and environments," said the Princess.

The three-day event was the first of its kind to be organised at AIT, one of Asia's foremost technological institutions, with a specific focus on sustainable tourism and community destination management.

The conference was designed to provide a forum for tourism and government officials to explore innovative approaches in order to meet the significant demands that tourism makes of urban areas and to move from the rhetoric of sustainable development to practical and grounded solutions.

It recognised that while urban areas play a major role in the high-growth travel and tourism industry, much needs to be done to alleviate the environmental, social and cultural impact of having many hundreds of thousands of people visiting Asian cities and rural communities.

The event was organised by the Canadian Universities Consortium Urban Environmental Management Project (CUC UEM) with funding assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

In her speech, HRH Princess Maha Chakri emphasised that the tourism industry is significant to the Asian economy.

Thus, the principles of sustainable social progress, improved standard of living and links between economic development, environmental health and human security must be put into practice in all aspects of tourism management and development.

TAT Governor Mr. Pradech Phayakvichien, who also spoke at the conference commented, "It was very encouraging to see Her Royal Highness at the conference. The support of our Royal Family is very important to us, and I hope that the Thai tourism industry as a whole will join me in heeding her words carefully."

CUC UEM Project Director Mr. Walter Jamieson added, "The Princess's inauguration of the event and the support of many regional and international partners is an honour for the CUC UEM Project. It also emphasises the widespread recognition of the importance of tourism destination management in Thailand and the entire region."

Conference topics were divided into four main theme areas: Tourism Destination Management and Planning Practices; Environmental and Cultural Heritage Management; Urban Environmental Management and the Travel Industry.

A wide range of presentation styles including panel discussions, presentations and plenary sessions by speakers, presenters and other resource people who were leading-edge practitioners and researchers from Southeast Asia, North America and Europe provided the maximum possible level of interaction and participation.

Five full-day field trips to sites in and around Bangkok were designed to support the conference topics. The tours which started on the second day of the conference related to all four themes.

Other co-operating agencies included the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), World Tourism Organisation (WTO), Urban Management Centre (UMC), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Based at AIT, Bangkok, and funded by CIDA, the CUC UEM Project is involved in a range of activities focusing on clean production, environmental management systems, urban environmental impact assessment, transportation planning and urban tourism destination management.