S1E27: Thailand looks to the stars in bid to woo tourists

  • 1 Dec 2023

First, the sea, the sand, the shopping. Now add stars to the Southeast Asian country’s list of attractions as it strives to get creative post-pandemic. 

Synopsis: Every first Friday of the month, The Straits Times chats with ST’s correspondents in the Asia-Pacific, the US and Europe, about life as it goes on, amid the screaming headlines and bubbling crises. 

Thailand’s location near the equator means that one can catch a glimpse of both northern and southern constellations, along with planets, nebulae and galaxies.

Across Thailand, interest in stargazing has soared, with people extending their trips with jaunts into the countryside where dark skies offer a backdrop for their stars.

The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand says more than 10,000 people have participated in its stargazing events since January 2022. It expects half a million visitors, locals and foreigners alike, to its six observatories across Thailand in 2023.

In this episode, ST’s foreign editor Li Xueying chats with ST’s Thailand correspondent Tan Tam Mei about “dark sky” tourism.

Highlights (click/tap above):

0:55 Stargazing trend: Tan Tam Mei recounts her trip and experience in the town of Pak Chong, a 2.5-hour car ride from Bangkok

4:55 What kind of tourists is Thailand hoping to attract with these new “astro tourism” activities? Stimulating domestic tourism for now first

7:30 Post-pandemic tourism strategies besides the “sand, sun, shopping” model: Thailand’s attempts to pursue new markets

12:57 Tam Mei on the local community’s passion for astronomy and astrophotography in Pak Chong

Read Tan Tam Mei’s article here: https://str.sg/ifSZ

Produced by: Li Xueying (xueying@sph.com.sg), Ernest Luis and Fa’izah Sani

Edited by: Fa’izah Sani

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