Thai Studies Center, Chulalongkorn University
Tourism is an increasingly important component of the economies of many countries. For some countries including Thailand, it is a major source of income and overseas investment. It perceives tourism as a fast track to economic growth. It can be assumed that tourism development requires less investment than other industries; tourism is also an effective means of creating job opportunities and increasing local income. Tourism expansion creates both positive and negative impacts on the destination areas of Thailand. It is a major source of revenue for Thailand and important to the Thai economy.
In Thailand, restaurants and street vendors can easily be found along the streets in not only the tourist areas but also in any community in Bangkok and all other provinces. It is one of the greatest joys of Thai people. These eating habits are easily satisfied by the wealth of varieties of tantalizing "street food" that are sold each day along the sidewalks near shopping areas, marketplaces, bus stations, business offices, and busy neighborhood centers. One reason for the variety of food vendor emergence is that today more and more Thais do not cook at home anymore. Smaller families of only two or three, and for some the fast-pace city life creating less time to spare, makes cooking a task to avoid. By four or five in the evening, street vendors are ready at their stalls with varieties of already cooked foods to be chosen by customers on their way home. Thousands of tourists to Thailand each year also find this way of life intriguing. The food looks great, the taste is superb, and the price is cheap. The only question left is food safety.
In order to protect consumers as well as promote good tourism in Thailand, a project aiming at assuring the good sanitation of all restaurants and street vendors in Thailand has been in place since 1989. The Department of Health of the Ministry of Public Health, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the Ministry of Interior who is responsible for all local governments in provinces around the country have joined hands in a project aimed at assuring the good sanitation of all restaurants and street vendors in Thailand. The "Clean Food Good Taste" Project directly benefits the people of Thailand while also reassures tourists that food in Thailand is safe, as well as looks and tastes good. At present, 5,377 restaurants (of 11,731 applied) and 3,045 vendors (of 6,843 applied) have passed the criteria and been awarded the Clean Food Good Taste logo to be displayed at their businesses. Thirty percent of the awardees are randomly chosen and assessed twice a year. If good sanitation is not found, the award and logo will be revoked.
(Presented in the International Conference – Thai Food Heritage: Local to Global, 4-6 August 2009, Tawana Bangkok Hotel, Bangkok, organized by The Project of Empowering Network for International Thai Studies (ENITS), Institute of Thai Studies, Chulalongkorn University with support from the Thailand Research Fund (TRF))