Each local community in Thailand has a unique way of life and has the potential to be developed as a tourist destination. Yet tourists are not aware of the community through normal channels of publicity. So, most tourist visits are done to popular tourist attractions. Also, tour operators are focused mainly on operating tourism business and may not consider promoting the real value proposition of that community such as its unique way of life and local identity. So local community becomes just another location that must compete for tourists in a competitive business which leads to unstainable tourism because local villagers are not involved in the organization of the trip.
Local Alike is an online platform that offers local community tourism--along with providing knowledge to villagers--while promoting management of natural resources so that they can be self-sustained for tourism. The platform also acts as an intermediary connecting both domestic and international tourism markets. It has won various awards including the National Innovation Awards 2019 in Social and Environmental Category for Private Enterprises and Prime Minister Award: National Startup 2019, Startup of the year. Local Alike started from identifying the potential to develop each community into a unique tourist destination. They desired to help spread the income from big cities to local communities through local tourism. Emphasis is placed on giving the community the opportunity to participate in the development from start to finish to increase the ability to manage local tourism on their own. All of these result in the creation of additional jobs and increasing income for the local communities and entrepreneurs.
The 4 working principles of Local Alike are: 1) “People Development” by giving knowledge to people in the community through workshops organized in accordance with the local’s unique offering, such as how to develop a local village into a community tourist spot; 2) “Business and Services Development” by developing sources for income generation in the local community such as tourist route, community homestay, local products, local foods, and local guides and tour buses; 3) “Technology Development” by developing a platform as a channel to connect tourists with the community and, for those that are ready, can also sell their goods and services online via localalike.com platform; and lastly 4) “Community and Environment Development” by combining a portion of the community’s income with Local Alike’s profits to solve environmental problems such as waste or lack of basic utilities.
This reinforces the definition of innovation by applying technology to create profit but, more importantly, create added value for local tourist attractions and community lifestyles. This also creates opportunities, helps build career for the new generation in the provinces and helps distribute more income back to the local communities.