Background to the Wua Lai Silverware Cluster

The Thai Government has brought the concept of ‘Clusters’ into being in order to increase the competitiveness of the country. Clusters focus on building cooperation among related sectors, from ‘upstream’ to ‘downstream’, including related industries, the government and education sectors, and advanced research institutions, in order to support geographically focused economic development. This policy will be used to set up strategic frameworks for long-term industrial development. Clusters will help industries shape their particular vision – to provide greater differentiation and a higher level of competitiveness. Expanding businesses based on their cultural capital is a practical move, and the clusters will help lead each industry’s direction and bring support from all relevant sectors; helping to sustain industries over the long term.

The strategy for the northern region includes the development of a silverware industry, especially in Wua Lai Village, where silverware has been produced for more than 200 years. Wua Lai Community has its own cultural capital which is ready to be developed. There are skilful craftsmen, factories, and wholesale and retail outlets in the community. In addition, Wat Sri Suphan and Wat Muen Sarn have long served as community centers in the area where the silverware industry is being promoted. With the silver Ubosot as their symbol of identity, the villagers of Wua Lai are ready to become silverware entrepreneurs, and the village is ready to be developed as a cultural tourism attraction.

In the past ten years, the Government has developed ‘Wua Lai Cluster’, with the help of different educational institutions. The vision and strategy for product development, the networking framework and marketing activities have already been established. The Government also helps with product exhibitions at both the domestic and international level.

In B.E. 2553 (2010), Chiang Mai Industrial Promotion Office expanded the Wua Lai silverware cluster project, with the aim of seeking cooperation from the silverware entrepreneurs in Wua Lai in order to develop their cultural products to serve new markets, through the development of new distribution channels and marketing media (publications and websites). The idea is to make Wua Lai Community into a silverware ‘shopping center’ and cultural tourist attraction, where people from many areas will know and recognize.

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