Thailand to be first Asian country to host 4th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism

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Thailand’s strategy to promote gastronomy tourism will take a huge step forward with the 4th UNWTO World Gastronomy Forum to be held in Bangkok between 30 May – 1 June 2018. It is the first time this event will be held in Asia.

Organised annually by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Centre, the event is being supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports with more than 567 delegates registered to attend (as of 18 May 2018).

This fourth edition will specifically focus on harnessing the power of technology as a driver for sustainable growth. The event will include a symposium, workshops and seminars in which leading experts in gastronomy tourism will discuss current trends and challenges in the sector, exchange best practices and inspire discussion on intercultural dialogue, gastro diplomacy, and the importance of technology for sustainable gastronomy tourism.

H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “This is going to be a landmark event in the annals of Thai and Asia-Pacific tourism. We will take full advantage of this gathering of leading experts in the field of gastronomy tourism to strengthen the connections between Thailand’s two bedrock industries, agriculture and travel and tourism.”

One unique part of the programme is on-site visits for international delegates to four Bangkok districts, each of which have their own unique culinary characteristics. These include Bang Rak, Nang Loeng, Trok Khao Mao and Phra Nakhon route. Another four route visits will help delegates enjoy the best culinary experience combined with culture and the community. These include: Talat Phlu, Talat Noi, Kudi Jeen, and Klong Bang Luang.

The first edition of the event was held in San Sebastian city of Spain, the 2nd time in Lima, Peru and 3rd in San Sebastian, Spain again. Over 250 international participants attended each event.

A press conference will be held on 30 May 2018 after the opening ceremony. It will be addressed by H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E. Mr. Zurab Pololikashivili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, and Mr. Joxe Mari Aizega, Director, Basque Culinary Centre.

In 2016, international visitors to Thailand spent an estimated 326 billion Baht on food and beverage consumption, representing 20 percent of the tourism revenue.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, “TAT has made gastronomy tourism an important part of its marketing strategy under the Thailand 4.0 socio-economic development plan.”

“Thai cuisine is famous all over the world. It is rare a major city in the world that does not boast a Thai restaurant, be it in the form of fine-dining or takeaway. All our culinary delights have their roots in Thai agriculture, which was our bedrock source of economic livelihood well before tourism. Now, the Royal Thai Government is more firmly linking both.”

In December 2017, TAT celebrated the opening of an exciting new chapter in Thailand’s dynamic culinary evolution with the launch of the first Michelin Guide Bangkok.

A total of 98 Thai, Asian and international restaurants, including for the first time 28 Thai street-food stalls, are featured in the inaugural Michelin Guide, which was launched at a gala ceremony in the Thai capital on 6 December. The selection of the Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018 features three two-star restaurants, 14 one-star restaurants and 35 Bib Gourmand restaurants.

The Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018 will be followed by similar guidebooks covering the food, service and catering sectors in other popular destinations.

In 2018, TAT also supported the publication of a bilingual Thailand guidebook Gault and Millau Belux 2018 edition.