Follow the scent

Thailand is stepping up its culinary game with an NTO-led project to develop and promote itself in the gastronomy tourism space

Thailand, the world’s fourth most favoured travel destination for international tourists according to the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study last year, is loved for many things – its culture, range of recreational and wellness options, and shopping opportunities.

However, Thailand’s gourmet draws may well be the one common magnet for almost all loyal fans of the destination.

Pastel Rooftop Bar & Mediterranean Dining is one of Bangkok’s latest dining venue

Making a move on foodies, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) launched in May the Amazing Thailand Culinary City project to further develop and promote Thailand as a world-class gastronomy tourism destination.

The project made its debut at the recent Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2023, held from May 31 to June 2 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok. It brought together entrepreneurs in the food tourism sector to create business matching opportunities, presented an exhibition on local dishes from across the country, and invited visitors to sample delicious treats from various participating restaurants as well as try their hand at making Thai desserts.

This launch was accompanied by a series of consumer-focused culinary events throughout May and June. These were hosted in four regions – Chiang Mai (North), Khon Kaen (North-east), Phuket (South), and Chanthaburi (East) – during which cooking workshops and demonstrations, food exhibition and sampling sessions were conducted.

However, TAT’s Amazing Thailand Culinary City project has loftier ambitions. Conceptualised under the BCG Economy Model, the project encompasses Agriculture, Gastronomy, Food Safety, Experience, and Creative Entrepreneur components.

“Activities are designed to stimulate a circular economy and underline the country’s vision for national development to achieve prosperity in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability,” said Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor, marketing communications, TAT.

Sitting alongside TAT’s culinary development efforts are continued innovation on the part of hospitality players in Thailand, whose efforts also serve to highlight the country’s cosmopolitan dining scene.

Opened in April this year, Pastel Rooftop Bar & Mediterranean Dining on the 22nd floor of Aira Hotel on Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road injects a festive vibe through its colourful interior décor and artistic murals. The menu is big on Mediterranean flavours, with a focus on farm-to-table ingredients. Small and large plates are designed to encourage carefree, communal dining.

Also new is Gaston, which replaces the well-known Spasso Italian restaurant and bar at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok. Gaston is styled after a classic Parisian bistro, where the menu features familiar French favourites like pork terrine, duck foie gras, and confit de canard.

After building a strong following for The Siam Tea Room, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park has gone on to open a second outlet at Asiatique The Riverfront. The new riverside outlet is focused on Thai favourites too, with a menu inspired by a journey to Old Siam.

The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon, which celebrated its first birthday in July, contributes to Bangkok’s vibrant dining scene, with options including the award-winning Chinese cuisine Mott 32.

If responsible dining is what travellers seek, then they shall find it at Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay, where guest meals are prepared using fresh produce from the resort’s own orchard and herb garden. This food resilience effort started in December 2022, when the resort converted a 6,000m² plot into lush grounds bursting with 160 coconut trees, 180 banana trees, 180 papaya trees, and four kinds of home-grown spices that are commonly used in Thai cooking.

Harvests are channelled to the four F&B outlets on property, while guests joining the resort’s cooking classes can pick their own fruit and spices from the garden.

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