Chiang Mai Tourist Safety – Mae Taeng Conference

Mae Taeng Elephant Park was an ideal setting for a conference organised by the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association for discussion about tourism safety standards between Government, Police and private tour operators.

The Chiang Mai Consular Corp was invited to participate in the conference so myself and 3 others went along to understand the perspective on tourism visitor safety and standards.  A trip from the Region 5 Police Headquarters to the Elephant Park was organised and on arrival I found the Elephant Park situated quietly on the banks of the Maetaeng River in the beautiful Maetaman Valley, about 50 kilometers north of Chiangmai.

Their website indicates they are dedicated to protecting the Asian Elephant and it is through Maetaeng Elephant Park & Clinic that the park is able to fulfill their commitment. Many of their elephants spent their early years in the logging industry, some have been brought here from the streets where they were used for begging. Many have been born right here in the park – please check out their website for more details: http://www.maetaengelephantpark.com/

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The President of the Tourism Business Association, Dr. Boontha Chailert, and the family that owns the Park, were the organisers of the event.  Others from the Tourism industry including Tourism Authority of Thailand along with Senior Royal Thai Police from Bangkok and Region 5 were in attendance.  Opening remarks and a panel discussions followed in relation to calling for the formal setting of standards for adventure activities to ensure guest safety, for these standards to be regulated and enforced.

The Police also provided commentary of their role and activities to ensure tourist safety noting that crime was low but traffic safety was an area of focus.  It was made clear that this event was part of the ongoing effort for close cooperation and collaborative working arrangements between private sector operators and Government authorities.

After the panel discussions a tour of the facility and safety demonstrations were provided in relation to how this particular park ensures safety practices of elephant activities, white water rafting, zip lines and ATV’s.  It was mentioned there are some 17 different types of adventure activities operating around Chiang Mai by many more operators.  Attempts to improve and drive consistent safety was the theme of this event.  For the many participants of the day the Mae Taeng OTOP community along with food stalls were set up and products available for sale and culinary enjoyment.

A large media contingent was involved and took many opportunities to interview the Deputy Police Commissioner from Bangkok and the Region 5 Police Commander.   I felt that there was some clear effort to proactively and cooperatively seek improvements for the safety of visitors to Chiang Mai and the North.  I was provided great translation of the activities by Chailert family members for which I was most thankful.

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An elephant painting