Phuket becomes the very first city in the ASEAN country to be included in the prestigious UNESCO Creative City Listing, as announced on December of 2015. Dubbed as the “Pearl of the Andaman,” Thailand’s second most popular city is packed with an abundance of great places to eat, with food being a major part of the city’s cultural identity.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Listing consists of 46 cities from 33 countries, recognizing excellence in the following 7 categories: design, film, gastronomy, crafts and folk art, music, media art, and literature.

Phuket is one of the world’s top beach destinations, known mainly for its rich offerings of pristine beaches and spectacular islands. Famous for its vast tourist infrastructure and offerings of spas, luxury hotels, luxury villa accommodations, attractions, and health and wellness resorts, the island welcomed over 11 million visitors in 2014 alone. Active direct airline connections with many of its neighboring countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, UAE, and Malaysia, has also boosted the island’s attraction as a popular weekend holiday getaway destination from these countries.

Phuket’s push to bring its strength in gastronomy began in as early as 2011 and done with the participation of the local government, the private sector, and that of academic institutes in the area.

According to Phuket city mayor Somjai Suwansupana, 5 factors led to the city’s recognition, which are: the city’s multi-cultural aspect; food as a major part of rituals and people’s lifestyles; unique cuisine and recipes that are passed on from one generation to another; public and private sectors committed to showing firm cooperation in food innovation; and lastly, Phuket as a city of hospitable people willing to share their experiences with the rest of the UNESCO city network.

Phuket itself is already known globally for its abundance of fresh seafood, but it’s rapidly becoming popular for being a great place to indulge in international cuisine as well. Local Thai food and international cuisine from Italian to Middle Eastern, Indian, and Japanese are easily found in the island, and many of them are offered in venues with spectacular views and ambiance.

Aside from high-end restaurants and international culinary offerings, Phuket is also packed with roadside food vendors and hawker stalls that offer unique food offerings not found anywhere else.

According to the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr, Yuthasak Supasorn, Phuket is no longer just a beach destination but has already evolved into a complete holiday destination offering a vast range of cultural attractions.

The recent UNESCO Creative Cities Listing recognition is yet another worthy distinction to the booming economy of the city.