Having lived in various tourist
destinations since my university days I am accustomed to the impact that
tourists have on a local community. Normally, they are seasonal giving the
destination a chance to recover from the onslaught and giving the community
a breather and a chance to regroup. Chiang Mai is now in high season but are
we ready? Certainly things slowed down and locals enjoyed a bit of respite
but with Chiang Mai one of the top destinations for Thai residents as well,
it wasn’t much of a break.
One of the problems with development is that it seems the high numbers of
tourists visiting Chiang Mai are not taken into account when considering the
impact on the city; its roads, water usage, electricity and just wear and
tear. The high speed train that is under consideration will certainly help
to connect Thailand to its neighbors but wouldn’t it actually help more to
invest in the infrastructure we need now, infrastructure that makes the city
more livable for everyone who visits and lives here?
Everyone agrees the city desperately needs a functional and usable public
transportation system, one that does not damage the beauty of the city but
also eases the traffic jams. We all agree that the roads need serious repair
work; the sidewalks (pavements for the British) need to be replaced and
rebuilt. We all agree that the drainage systems for the streets need
upgrading so that the streets don’t flood in heavy rains. Water supply needs
to be improved and the dangling dangerous electric wires need to be fixed.
Even better, it would be great if these could be buried. Perhaps when they
decide to fix the roads they could also bury the cables.
For Chiang Mai to be presented as a tourist destination these issues need to
be addressed, not only to make the city more livable for the residents but
to make it more attractive and safer for tourists.