ROI ET – Named after the golden land of Buddhism and once a Lao city-state, Suwannaphum District today strives to become a tourism destination. Last week, local leaders of the district in Roi Et Province agreed to form an association to strengthen civil society engagement in managing tourism.
On November 11, the “Muang Sriphum Tourist Association” was officially established by community leaders, village heads, and members of the subdistrict administrative organization in Sa Khu Subdistrict on the basis of the Community Organization Councils Act 2008.
The association follows the concept of the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute promoting sustainable and community-owned tourism. It is an effort to link the work of the People of Thung Kula Network, Roi Et’s Provincial Office of Tourism and Sports, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The People of Thung Kula Network was set up two years ago in Roi Et as an informal group to develop a concept for local tourism to benefit local communities.
Suwannaphum District is well-known for its hom mali rice and natural-dye fabrics. It is home to the Khmer temple ruin of Ku Phra Kona, Tha Sala Lake, and a community forest hosting monkeys.
The district’s history dates back to the 18th century when the Lao kingdom of Champasak extended its reach to the Khorat Plateau. Muang Suwannaphum was founded in 1718 as the first recorded Lao settlement in the area.
It is located in a particular area covering the provinces of Surin, Maha Sarakham, Buriram, Sisaket, and Roi Et. Named Thung Kula Rong Hai, literally meaning “the fields of the crying Kula,” it was long infamous for desert-like conditions and scarceness of water during dry season.
But today, the area is well-known for its rice production. In 2014, hom mali rice from the region was named a top innovation product at a trade fair in Paris.
Reporting by Mana Nueatho, a participant of The Isaan Journalism Network Project 2017 organized by The Isaan Record.