After joining hands with the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mahidol University, in the “CDG Code Their Dreams” project, CDG Group, Thailand’s leading technology solution provider, disclosed that the project is part of the effort to drive the community tourism towards social enterprise. Under the project, new technologies are used to develop the “Mahasawat” website as an intermediary to build recognition about 5 tourist attractions of the canal community through “Mahasawat Storytelling,” a technique used for telling interesting stories and atmosphere. Chatbot system will be developed on the Facebook platform to provide information to tourists quickly to support tourism of the Khlong Mahasawat community. E-Commerce platform will be developed as another source of income on the community’s website. After the students’ visits to the community in the first phase, the number of tourists improved by 50%. Also, the team is ready to roll out plans to develop interactive VR games in the future by using AR technology for children’s learning.
Mr. Nart Liucharoen, Chief Executive Officer of CDG Group, revealed that, “CDG Code Their Dreams”, the collaborative project between CDG Group and the Faculty of ICT, Mahidol University, was aimed at adapting technologies to improving the Khlong Mahasawat community tourism. Recently, a team of 15 students visited the community in order to develop the competition works into different online platform products including the Thai-English website www.mahasawat.com, the Facebook Chatbot, and e-Commerce channels. These platforms serve as intermediaries to raise awareness about tourist attractions of the Khlong Mahasawat community.
“CDG Group is committed to using IT know-how and technology to take community tourism to greater heights. Recently, a team of students, who were trained under the “CDG Code Their Dreams’ project, visited the community in order to use the competition works to create the Storytelling feature for the community’s website. The team also shared basic knowledge about computer programming, reason-based learning, logical thinking, and systematic thinking, the principles needed for developing new things, with the community members. Currently, the website www.mahasawat.com serves as an effective intermediary for the community to raise awareness about the 5 tourist attractions, namely Baan Saladin (Saladin House), Uncle Cham’s Lotus Field, Khanitta’s Baby Jackfruit House, Uncle Boonlert’s Fruit Farm, and Khun Soi’s Orchid Farm. The Storytelling technique is used to tell the interesting stories and ambience of the Khlong Mahasawat community. This helps attract more Thai and foreign tourists to come and visit the community. As a result, the community saw an increase in the visitors of over 50%,” said Mr. Nart.
Mr. Nart added that apart from the website, the team also developed the Chatbot system on Facebook to provide quick tourist information. Previously, the information service was not fully maintained due to a lack of manpower. Now, the Facebook Chatbot can answer visitors 24 hours, bringing the visitors closer to the community. Moreover, Global Web Index indicated that over 85% of Thai users used to make purchases through online stores and domestic online sales went up by more than 25% over last year. This project thus helps increase opportunities to generate income through an e-Commerce platform on the community’s website with the community’s products being promoted. Interested persons can view and order the products online without making physical visits. This allows community members to earn more income, instead of mainly relying on the tourists, and ultimately transforms the Khlong Mahasawat community tourism into a sustainable social enterprise.
Mr. Wanchai Sawasdi-Daeng, President of the Ban Saladin Water Users’ Community Enterprise, stated that after the visits of the CDG Code Their Dreams’ team and the students from Mahidol University to the Khlong Mahasawat community to share academic knowledge and how to add promotion channels such as Facebook, a local website, and an inquiry channel quickly accessible to tourists like Facebook Chatbot; the tourist spots of the community continued to gain more and more recognition. As a result, on average, 80% Thais and 20% foreigners gradually came to visit the community during weekends. The locals who earlier did not know much about IT stuff or could not use social medial to its full benefit have now attained more skills and can make better uses. In the future, the local people should learn not only front-end uses, but also how to maintain the back-end system to ensure that the community can rely on itself in the long run.
Nevertheless, CDG Group and Mahidol University plan to promote tourism through interactive VR games that can be used for cultural tourism. Such games will be jointly developed with bicycle maps to create the so-called “21st Century Classroom” for children aged 6-8 years. The children will play in simulated scenarios and have a chance to practice their problem-solving skills and gain a hands-on experience. Augmented Reality or AR technology will also be used in the games to create learning-driven environments as children will enjoy learning in real-world locations.
The Khlong Mahasawat Community is one of the key tourist attractions in Nakhon Pathom province. There are 5 tourist spots, i.e. Ban Saladin, Uncle Cham’s Lotus Field, Khanitta’s Baby Jackfruit House, Uncle Boonlert’s Fruit Farm, and Khun Soi’s Orchid Farm. The community tourism was promoted through the digital media such as the Thai-English website. The website contains 3 parts: 1) The community’s background and tourist spots, 2) Maps of the community’s tourist spots, and 3) Recommendations on places to go, things to do, local food to try, atmosphere, and farm products of local people unique to each tourist spot. For those who like to experience the charms of the Khlong Mahasawat community, please visit www.mahasawat.com or Facebook page: “ชุมชนมหาสวัสดิ์,” said Mr. Wanchai.