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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Introduction: Living the OTOP life

The "One Tambon One Product" programme known by its initials OTOP, was first introduced in Thailand in 2001 and has become a symbol of our times. OTOP is a scheme built on the traditional art and crafts of Thailand. In every village and every region, there were weavers hand-weaving textiles which they made into clothes for their own or for their family's use, or to sell or to barter to the neighbours. A local man good at woodwork would make a table for this own home or to sell to some one. People made toys for the children, jars for storing water and bowls for drinking.

This was all part-time work done when the household chores or the daily task of farming were over. Now, with OTOP, the government is encouraging local craft workers to bring back to life these traditional crafts as viable, saleable products for the domestic and the international markets. Thai people in rural area throughout the country have been encouraged and supported to use their skill and creativity in traditional local handicrafts to generate not only income, but also a sense of pride and achievement.

Arts and crafts that were in danger of dying out have been revalued and revived, and are sought after by a world that is increasingly coming to value handmade quality products. Entrepreneurial instincts within small communities are being encouraged, OTOP is doing exactly what its originators a sense of purpose and responsibility, and turning small communities into productive economic units with the ultimate aim of eradicating poverty.

OTOP products are now firmly present in both the domestic and international marketplace, and the OTOP logo is recognised as a symbol of quality. Now, a new project designed to continue the success of the OTOP venture is being introduced. It is a logical step forward with the aim of raising the number of tourist arrivals to 20 million by the year 2008. This is the OTOP Tourism Villages initiative.

In the OTOP Tourism Villages scheme, visitor will be welcomes to stay in selected villages that produce OTOP products of exceptional quality, and which can offer outstanding attractions in the way of historical interest, scenic beauty and local culture.

Visitors will stay in the community with local families who will provide accommodation of a standard of quality governed by Thai government regulations and guidelines. They will have the opportunity not only to see how the OTOP 5-star products are made, but to experience and participate in the lives of the people who produce them.