Today (19 Sep 2013), Mr. Pisan Manawapat, Ambassador of Thailand to India, opened his residence to welcome an experienced and well-known food critic in India, Rinku Madan, former editor and writer for nightlife and food guide for Times of India.
Given the rare chance to host a Thai lunch for a well-established food critic, the Thai Ambassador did not hesitate to treat the writer with the best Thai dishes from his very own kitchen.
He and his colleagues from the Thai Embassy and Tourism Authority of Thailand Office (TAT) in Delhi also managed to learn a thing or two from the critic about Indian perspectives on Thai cuisine and how Thai restaurants could best serve up to the delecate Indian palates.
Ms. Rinku praised Thai cuisine as one of the best, and suggested that there was a big chunk of Indians, especially the younger and more affluent lot, who have loved and will love Thai food and would be thrilled to see more authentic Thai restaurants open up in India.
With the presence of Ms. Runjuan Thongrut, Director of TAT, Ms. Rinku also expressed her willingness to work with Thai Tourism to promote Thailand as a luxury travel destination for Indians, suggesting that education is key to success. A credible spokesperson like her can connect with the mass and help change the Indian mindset about Thailand as being a ‘cheap’ tourist spot.
The Thai Ambassador pointed out that Thailand had all the luxury facilities that any of the world cities considered ‘posh’ by Indians, such as London, Singapore and Hong Kong, had, be it luxury 7-star hotels with world-class hospitality and services, or luxury shopping.
Most importantly, he further added, this luxury comes at much more affordable prices in Thailand than in its competitors. Ms. Runjuan stressed that while Thailand was far from being second-tier destination, it can provide ‘posh’ value-for-money alternatives to foreign tourists.
They went on to discuss ideas to bring this aspect of Thailand to the Indian public, especially, the wealthy ones. One of the suggestions was to involve TAT and other relevant Thai agencies with a luxury magazine, which Ms. Rinku is working together with a foreign partner to launch in India.
The Thai Ambassador also touched on the promotion of Indian tourism. According to his view, India has some of the most amazing tourist sites in the world, but the lack of active promotion of tourism has led these sites, some are of invaluable historical importance, to go unnoticed among foreign tourists in India.
Ambassador Pisan coined the idea of setting up an award system, whereby the Government of India will award foreign ambassadors who do the best job in promoting Indian tourism in their respective countries. This is most effective and economical simply because these ambassadors are credible to their peoples so they are most qualified to be spokespersons for the Indian Government.
Ms. Rinku Madan is a renowned journalist specializing in food and lifestyle journalism. She was a regular columnist for the Times of India until 2012 when she went to study Global Journalism at Harvard University. She is now planning to start an independent career in journalism by creating her own brand luxury magazine in India.