One of the most successful legacies of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is the OTOP scheme. This stands for “One Tambon One Product”. In Thai, “tambon” translates as “sub-district” or group of villages. The idea was to encourage local entrepreneurs to produce quality products unique to their region. The government helped by marketing the products not only nationally but on the international stage too. OTOP products cover a large array of local products, including handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, and foods. After the military junta overthrew the government in 2006 they first cancelled this scheme. But, they later realised how much of a success it has been in stimulating the economy at the local level. It had not only created many jobs locally but also provided them places to sell their products.
In order to help stimulate the economy, the government have been holding OTOP Fairs all over the country. The latest and biggest, called OTOP Festival In The City 2009, has just started in Bangkok. The aim is to have 3,000 stores selling products from all around the country in the heart of the city. The event is taking place at major department stores along Sukhumwit Road from The Emporium all the way up to Siam Square. The main event takes place at the National Stadium, next to MBK, where they alone have an estimated 2,500 stores. They are selling things like handicraft, clothes, food and many other products which are locally produced. For foreign tourists and expats, this is a great way to experience the wealth and variety of Thai products in one location. The OTOP fair runs from now until April 4th.
The locations of the OTOP fairs are as follows:
1. National Stadium
Category: Handicrafts, Artifacts, Souvenirs, Food, Beverages, Clothes & Garment, Ware & Decoration, Herb Supplements
2. Maboonkrong Shopping Center: Dried Food, Beverages, Cosmetics and Herbal Products.
3. Siam Discovery Center: Clothes & Garment, Handicraft & Basketry
4. Siam Center: Fashion products: Clothes, Dress, Bags, and Accessories
5. Siam Paragon: Dried Foods, Beverages, Handicraft Ware and Ceramic ware, Basketry, Artificial Flowers, 9 gold plates, Silversmiths, Perl Gems, Black onyx Jewelry, Elaborated Eggshell, Jewelry products and Ornamentations, Gem Stones and Colored Gem Stones.
6. Central World: Souvenirs, Home Decors, Spa Products, Scented Candles, Dried Food, and Beverages, Handicrafts, Basketry, Artifacts, Miniatures, Khon Masks, Glassware, Bencharong ware, and Thai cloth
7. Amarin Plaza: Fashion, and Home Decors
8. The Emporium: Wooden Crafts, Artificial Flowers.
9. Benjasiri Park: Enjoy cultural performances from four regions “OTOP Villages from 4 Regions”
Many of the venues also have cultural shows and mini concerts from the late afternoon until evening. More information at our www.ThaiFestivalBlogs.com website.