The Corrections Department is working on plans to turn 72 prisons across the country into tourist attractions, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin revealed on Monday.
Attractions could include events such as cooking contests for “chefs behind bars”, and shops where visitors could buy items crafted by prisoners.
The justice minister said the plan was already being implemented at five prisons, which are pilot projects. He named only four of them – Trat, Rayong, Ratchaburi and Nakhon Ratchasima prisons.
In fiscal 2021, the work would be expanded to 67 other prisons. In total, 72 prisons, or 50% of the 143 prisons throughout the country, would have tourist attractions.
Mr Thepsuthin admitted it was not possible for all prisons to be included in the plan. There were limitations.
If some prisons become popular, the Justice Ministry may in future work with the Tourism and Sport Ministry and use them for tourism promotion.
The justice minister said various activities have already been tested, such as “chefs behind bars”, to promote occupations in various fields, prepare inmates for return to a normal life in society and change the image of prisons from being a twilight world to a world of opportunities.
Mr Thepsuthin said the Corrections Department was ready in terms of personnel and locations to implement the policy. Many prisons were already sited on existing tour routes, the minister pointed out.
With prisons being developed as tourist stops, inmates would be able to make use of their abilities and skills to earn an income, he added.