Thailand has now opened its borders, which will attract visitors, both domestic and from overseas, which in turn will stimulate the economy, prompting entrepreneurs, particularly those in the business of retail and restaurants, to prepare for the increase of inbound tourists. Chiang Mai University is promoting a gastronomy tourism project with the theme, ‘Missing Chiang Mai’, with the goal of reviving tourism after the COVID-19 crisis and to help entrepreneurs create new ideas, such as having menus that use traditional Lanna ingredients, a spicy attempt to draw visitors back to Chiang Mai. Once implemented, the project is expected to generate about 500 million baht for local farmers and entrepreneurs in the retail and service industries, as well as to create a new image of Chiang Mai as being the city of new Lanna gastronomy tourism and helping to bring in more than 50,000 high-quality tourists. This is a remarkable effort seeking to revive the tourism sector and to drive it forward.
This project is driven by the CMU Food Innovation and Packaging Centre (FIN). It highlights the many good flavors of local ingredients from different areas in conjunction with tourism. It aims to turn Chiang Mai into the city of ‘new Lanna gastronomy tourism’ and showcase its local identity to the world through food. Collected data about gastronomy tourism has been used to create new activities in collaboration with the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai and to set up an exchange group for food experts and enthusiasts to discuss and build collaborations that will benefit local gastronomy development. Moreover, workshops are offered to help restaurant entrepreneurs come up with a new signature menu with the guidance of Michelin Star trained chefs, while also taking into account food safety regulations, and creating their own stories in relation to local tourist attractions. Also, there is a competition for new Lanna food production, as well as large-scale publicity through digital marketing and a Wonder Food Festival, among other measures.
Chiang Mai University hopes that this gastronomy tourism project will bring Chiang Mai’s economy back to its feet through beautiful, creative, sustainable Lanna dishes that have added value and imprint a lasting impression on visitors. This will become the central point of the province’s gastronomy tourism that seeks to inspire and empower entrepreneurs, allowing them to regain their competitive edge and self-dependence once more.