Background to the challenge
Over the past twenty years Asia has witnessed enormous social, cultural, political and technological changes, and the growth of tourism in countries like Thailand has been a significant agent in these. In the past Thailand, like many Asian countries, viewed tourism as a powerful means of attracting foreign exchange and thereby boosting the national economy, with the creation of jobs and sales of local crafts and products. However this approach, which tends to reduce cultural heritage and environmental assets to an economic commodity, is beginning to change in Thailand and there is a growing recognition of the socio-cultural value of tourism at both a national and local level. Allied to this a concern to move away from mass tourism, which characterised Thailand in the 1990s and early part of the twentieth century, towards more sensitive approaches such community-based tourism, eco-tourism, stay at home tourism and cultural/heritage tourism. These trends are more responsive to bottom-up activity from the local communities rather than top-down activity from government.
The area between Thaton and Mae Salong in northern Thailand is beginning to expand as a tourist destination although much of the sub-region is not promoted as such. Therefore this challenge is focused on the creation of a culturally sensitive heritage trail between Thaton and Mae Salong that attracts tourists to the area in ways that are sensitive and responsive to local needs and traditions. It requires the use of mobile technologies both to research and capture assets for the heritage trail and as an output medium that tourists would use to view and participate in the trail (e.g. a simple app or heritage trail activity).