The tourism trade in Chiang Mai hasn't been too brisk over the past five years.
And that's not only due to Thailand's political instability but also down to economic and other problems in other countries that have dampened the mood to travel.
But instead of waiting for a miracle to happen, Chiang Mai and the adjacent provinces of Lamphun, Lampang and Mae Hong Son decided to join hands and play a more proactive role in reversing the situation.
In the "Miracle Tourism Forum" (MTF) held last weekend in Chiang Mai, representatives from tourism-related government and business agencies from the four northern provinces gathered to show their intention to fight this battle together. Tour agencies, the buyers, from Bangkok were also invited to meet and directly discuss business with operators of hotels, resorts and local attractions.
During the event, a new website, www.north-thailand.org, was also launched. With both Thai and English versions, the site was designed not only to promote tourism in the four provinces but also to facilitate business. Tour agencies and the media can conveniently download and use information and the beautiful photographs of this part of the kingdom, selected from entries to a photo contest held earlier for this purpose.
During the first MTF, awards were handed out to many locals who have made considerable contributions to the tourism business.
Selected hotels designed in traditional northern style were presented with the Lanna Hotel Collection Awards. This year, the top honour went to the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, while recipients of the two outstanding awards were Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort and Khum Phaya Resort & Spa.
As part of their co-marketing scheme, the four provinces, through tourism-related associations and businesses, will also try to introduce less-known attractions and promote routes that encourage travellers to visit more than just one province on a trip.