Chiang Rai has applied service design to embrace creativity and sustainability in its production. People are the center of this transformation. Hilltribes were taugth to cultivate new crops that replaced opium. The development has inspired the private sector in transforming their plantations for agritourism and building their brandnames, notably Choui Fong Tea and Doi Chang Coffee. Similarly, buildings, spaces and services in Chiang Rai infused with the Neo-Lanna arts answer to the thrust for sense of place and unique traveling experiences.
In addition, Mae Sai, Chiang Saen, and Chiang Khong Districts have been declared as special border economic zones to enable investment in creative industries. However, being a city bordering 2 neighboring countries poses a challenge as can be seen in the concerns over COVID-19 outbreak. Although the strengths of healthcare professionals and close cooperation at a township level have prevented such disaster from happening, the challenges such as transboundary air pollution from open burning and reforestation remains a threat to tourism and related industries.