Thailand is a top global tourist destination, but it has recently entered a severe pollution crisis, especially in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city and the north’s main tourist hub. To call attention to the problem, a dirty ‘souvenir’ has been created.
Just as 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’ – canned air with a label indicating the levels of PM2.5 pollutants collected each day. It aims to act as both an apology and a call for help for a city that is often ranked within the world’s most polluted cities.
The souvenir also asks visitors to pledge on social media to come back when the air is clean again. With that, J Walter Thompson Bangkok, the agency that designed the campaign, hopes 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,” said Nattawadee Yuentham, founder of the city’s Thunderbird Hostel.
“The most obvious health-related issue would be with my staff. Their noses bleed out every morning because of the air pollution,” added Thanwimol Khunsuthum, co-founder of Gallery Seescape.
“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.” Stated João Braga, chief creative officer at J Walter Thompson Bangkok.