Thailand is a top global destination, with the tourism industry accounting for over 20% of the country’s GDP. Recently, however, it has entered a severe pollution crisis, especially in Chiang Mai - Thailand’s second largest city and the north’s main tourist hub - now often placed #1 within the world’s most polluted cities.
Just like Switzerland sells fresh air in a can, small local businesses at the heart of Chiang Mai’s tourist district got together to create the Pollution Souvenir. A special souvenir carrying canned air with a label indicating the levels of PM2.5 pollutants collected each day. Both an apology and a call for help, asking visitors to pledge on social media to come back when the air is clean again. With that we hope to create a voice loud enough to finally impose action and help both Thais and visitors breathe again.
“The problem is a lot worse compared to previous years. From restaurants, to hotels and guesthouses. There have been lots of cancellations. Most tourists have changed their holiday destination” says Nattawadee Yuentham, founder of Thunderbird Hostel. Thanwimol Khunsuthum, co-founder of Gallery Seescape adds: “The most obvious health-related issue would be with my staff. Their noses bleed out every morning because of the air pollution.”
“When you see kids getting used to wearing masks to school, you know it’s time to act. Calling attention from visitors and raising international awareness is a shortcut for action in a country where tourism plays such an important role in the economy. Pollution Souvenir became our SOS message in a jar” says João Braga, CCO of J. Walter Thompson Bangkok.