A popular new tourist destination in Chiang Mai, Hinoki Land, has become controversial on social media after the Culture Ministry nominated the Japanese-inspired site as one of Thailand's top 10 cultural destinations.
Many people posted comments saying, "Hinoki Land should not be included in the list, as it merely copies a Japanese tourist spot of the same name." The ministry's Cultural Promotion Office recently announced the top 10 cultural destinations for people to visit.
The destinations were selected from popular places nationwide, ranging from a botanical garden to an architectural museum and an agricultural farm to a nightlife theatre.
Besides Hinoki Land in Chiang Mai's Chaiya Prakan district, the other places are Chiang Rai's Doi Tung, Jim Thompson Farm in Nakhon Ratchasima province, the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Chon Buri, the Buffalo Village in Suphan Buri, Woodland Muangmai in Nakhon Pathom province, Ancient City in Samut Prakan, the Siam Niramit theatre in Bangkok and the Phuket Fantasy theatre.
According to the announcement, the ministry selected these places in order to honour them for their cultural heritage.
The ministry also aims to encourage the general public to promote cultural heritage at both local and national levels.
CRITERIA NOT KNOWN
However, the ministry did not mention the criteria for its selection, which led the public to wonder about the choices. A Chiang Mai cultural promotion officer said her office had not nominated Hinoki Land, but it that was done by the headquarters in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, when contacted by The Nation, the Cultural Ministry declined to explain the criteria for selection, saying its officers were in a meeting to discuss the issue and would reveal the criteria today.
"I'm surprised that the Culture Ministry nominated Hinoki Land, which imitates Japan's popular destination," Phakkhanan Winitchai, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand's Chiang Mai Office, said.
"The ministry should reveal the selection criteria. If the criteria claims to be based on Thai culture, it may not be credible. However, if the place was selected for its international value, it may pass."