We have seen the food and beverage industry come together to help out and support hard-working medical personnel fighting COVID-19 and hard-hit local farmers and producers affected by the lockdown measures. But there are many other groups thinking up creative solutions to lend a helping hand to their brothers and sisters all over Thailand. Different institutions across the Kingdom are promoting an array of local products and services to offer encouragement and share their strength during this difficult period.
The current crisis has impacted many sectors, especially travel and tourism. Most tourist attractions and tourism-related businesses have had to temporarily close. So, local entrepreneurs and their communities are losing income as tourists cannot visit and buy their local products. To offer some relief and support, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has created a warm, welcoming online marketplace through the Facebook group Amazing Market. Farmers, producers, retailers, and service providers from across Thailand have joined this market.
The Amazing Market was created to help local entrepreneurs communicate and advertise their products to a wider audience and to promote tourism across Thailand. This is especially important because one community’s hardship and lost income can cause a chain reaction and negatively impact other communities. The market is open for posts from local producers and restaurants, as well as tourism-related businesses. Focussing on smaller scale operations that may be harder hit when they had to cease operations due to government lockdown orders, this market aims to help even the farthest reaches of the economy generate income. It also is a platform for people to browse and perhaps discover new local products as they would if they were travelling.
Specifically related to travel and tourism, properly registered hotels and homestays can sell vouchers good for one year or longer. Tourist attractions, car rentals, and other related businesses can also publicise their offerings, promoting the return of travel and tourism as the COVID-19 situation improves.
The market is divided into the following 14 sections:
1. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and foodstuffs.
2. Prepared dishes and beverages for takeaway and delivery.
3. Local foods and specialities.
4. Chilli pastes, spices, sauces, and condiments.
5. Handwoven or local fabrics.
6. Products made from Thai fabrics.
7. Face masks made from Thai fabrics or by local communities.
8. Souvenirs and keepsakes.
9. Woven baskets and other handicrafts.
10. Locally cultivated rice.
11. Local teas and coffees.
12. Travel and tourism **for promotional purposes only**.
13. Furnishings and housewares.
14. Others (e.g. utensils, natural remedies, herbal compresses, and car rentals).
Visitors can post reviews (related to purchases through the market) and requests for products which will be moderated by the group’s admin. All products posted must include such details as name and prices and must not be prohibited or illegal products.
Since opening on 15 April 2020, people have been posting their wares while others have been searching for products and services. So far, there has been extremely positive feedback from both sellers and buyers. Users can conveniently label and search for such things as local foods, chilli pastes, fruits and vegetables, hand-made bread made from organically grown fruits and vegetables, hand-woven fabrics, or even face masks made from Thai fabrics.
The various regions of Thailand are also featured by highlighting local specialities. Dishes made of natural materials from Loei. Rice from Sakon Nakhon. Fresh fruits grown by the villagers of Pha Mee in Chiang Rai. There are also home-made ice creams from seasonal fruits as well as Grandma Fu’s khao tom mat (steamed sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves), made famous from being served on one of the nation’s leading airlines. And, of course, you can find many other freshly picked ingredients and freshly prepared local foods straight from farmers and traders across Thailand.
Nong Sukjai, the group’s admin, offers a few tips and tricks when visiting the Amazing Market. And friends from various regional TAT offices offer suggestions for visitors to try, including sai oua (northern Thai sausage), pork scratchings (cracklings for US readers), dried fish, and chilli paste made with sturgeon from Chiang Mai.
The Amazing Market will remain open and operating until the COVID-19 restrictions ease and the government allows tourism-related travel again. Then, TAT plans include encouraging visitors to travel to these local communities to experience these products in person.
Even though we cannot travel, there is this bustling online market for everything wonderful and delicious in Thailand, welcoming buyers and sellers from across the country with virtual open arms. Amazing Market offers visitors a way to support and encourage local industries, so that even if far away, our hearts can still connect.
If you are interested in learning more, visit and follow the Amazing Market group at www.facebook.com/groups/667462197374433. Please note that the group is available in Thai language only.