Friday, June 6, 2008

Meeting TAT

During my recent vacation I took the chance to meet with Khun Nitty from Born Distinction, the company which does the internet activities for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Meeting in person is usually the better way to avoid misunderstandings, the way the TAT originally made their plans to work with Wikipedia created quite a lot. So we had a meeting for about two hours, talking about the plans of TAT, my editing history and experiences at Wikipedia, especially on Thai topics. Of course I also answered her questions, as well as presenting several topics where I had problems in editing and would loved the help from a Thai. Some of these problems, especially when I need information not available in English, already became topics in this blog. Quite a big topic was that several Wikipedia articles give the prostitution and sex tourism a disproportional focus - of course TAT is not happy with the still-present image of Thailand as a sex tourism destination.

Originally a press conference officially starting the WikiMission was planned during my stay as well, however it was delayed. I am not sure if it was held already now, I did not see anything on the TAT website about it.

Additionally TAT invited me for a dinner in a luxury hotel restaurant, with several directors and associate directors from TAT and also Khun Nitty and her boss at born distinction. It was really nice to see that my work on Wikipedia has been appreciated by them so much. I got a thank-you letter, a bag with some goodies including a book on Thai cocktails produced by born distinction and a T-Shirt marking me as an E-Citizen. But the largest gift was a voucher for two nights at the Springfield Village Golf and Spa Resort near Hua Hin. Luckily our travel plans were very flexible, so we went there already begin of April. Jokingly the TAT directors said they sent me to Hua Hin, so I can research more on the area, as it is currently not much covered in Wikipedia. But if they really intended that it they should have chosen a less luxury hotel, we spent most of the time in the hotel, the only place additional to the beach we went was the local Somdet Ya park.

Nitty promised me that the current drive to improve the province articles - she already started to add the sights to several articles, but I haven't had time yet to look into it in detail, or even to incorporate them better into the previously existing text - won't be a one-time activity, but they will continue to improve or create articles on Thai topics over the next years. I am especially looking forward to the photos they plan to release in a public license, there are many areas of Thailand where Wikipedia has absolutely no illustrations.

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