26 Jul Evergreen Thailand
26 July 2019
While the steady increase of the number of foreign tourists has played a driving role in the country’s economic growth and now accounts for 10 to 15% of its GDP, the mass tourism model is questioned because of the significant damage it causes. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is developing initiatives to promote the local economy and the discovery of the Land of Smile in the respect of people and the environment, offering to travel differently and in a more responsible way.
According to a joint study by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the global tourism industry is responsible for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 40% are attributable to air transport, 32% to land transport, 3% to other transports, 21% to accommodation and 4% to various tourist activities.
Thus, mass tourism increases fuel consumption by generating new trips but it causes other types of damage to the environment: for example, the construction of not ecofriendly tourist infrastructure, the large amount of waste generated, the over-consumption of water and electricity, the wastewater sent by hotels to the sea destroying the marine plants essential for feeding fish and building coral (also directly affected by diving activities). However, the development of global tourism can prove to be an incentive to the protection of the environment, tourist regions have an interest in preserving their natural assets, even developing them. Then, Thai or foreigners, what are the alternatives to travel better in the Kingdom?
Breathe, you are traveling…
Appreciating travel while taking care of the environment leads to concrete practices, which the TAT has enshrined in a Declaration of Environmental Protection for Sustainable Tourism with 2 expected results: creating a model of sustainable tourism and reducing the effects of tourism on climate change.
The idea is to highlight another face of Thailand, authentic and preserved, a goldmine for nature lovers. Of course, it’s possible to travel responsibly in common destinations like Phuket with a “community-based tourism” and the discovery of traditions and the meeting of local communities. Nature reserves, however, remain a smart alternative, rarely visited, offering beautiful landscapes: traveling in Thailand means enjoying a spectacular and wild nature, sometimes uncontrollable as in the primary forests of the center and the coast. For example, Khao Yai National Park or Phang Nga Bay with its beautiful waterfalls and authentic villages. Only 25 provinces out of 76 are touristic today, so let’s discover new horizons…
Ethics in choosing your activities and the professionals who will accompany you are essential, especially in the context of exchanges with local communities and the discovery of fauna and flora. Choose tours or places that meet several qualitative criteria to ensure that the region is preserved in a sustainable way: providing biodegradable packaging, choosing hotels that are sensitive to environmental issues, walking, cycling or taking the train rather than other means of transport.
RESPONSIBLE DESTINATIONS – LATITUDES TOP 5
- Khao Sok National Park is one of the best-protected natural habitats. For example, try a trip to Our Jungle Camp and contribute to their efforts to educate children about protecting the environment in local schools. The treehouses, bungalows and huts of the camp are constructed from bamboo and renewable materials. They set the example by reducing their energy consumption, giving up air conditioning and television, reducing plastic waste with purified water available and owning their own organic farm.
- The Doi Inthanon National Park, located about 115 km from Chiang Mai, is because of its altitude (2565 m) a home for a wide variety of plants, birds, myriads of butterflies, black bears as well as different species of monkeys. The two royal pagodas known as Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphonphumisiri, with their magnificent gardens and panoramic views, are a must, as is the cave of Tham Borichinda with its beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
- In the Kanchanaburi area, local farmers offer travelers an interesting concept with rice harvesting, sugarcane and banana cultivation and weaving workshops.
- Think of small eco-friendly islands such as Mak or Talu. The last one is a small natural paradise located 4 hours from Bangkok, a green island far from its big sisters Tao or Samui attracting partygoers. Talu is a private island, its development as an “eco-resort” has made it possible to fight against the massive destruction of the marine ecosystem by the massive fishing and to revive the local economy by employing the local population in the tourist structures of the island.
- Durable can be compatible with luxury? On the small island of Yao Noi, between Krabi and Phuket, in a stunning environment, Six Senses offers 55 villas nestled in the vegetation. The focus is on optimizing energy consumption, water and waste treatment, social commitment, nature protection and air quality control. An organic garden is used for meals and the place offers holistic wellness treatments using traditional and natural methods.
“How to be 7 green”
The TAT is developing 7 Green concepts to give an idea of what makes responsible tourism experiences in Thailand including Green Heart, Green Logistics, Green Attractions, Green Activity, Green Community, Green Service, and Green Plus. “Green à la carte” is a responsible tourism guide. The traveler can choose his course as he would enjoy a meal with a different green destination for an aperitif, main course or dessert. A wide range of “green” ways of traveling are presented: green roads from Sukhothai to circuits in Khmer reserves and to the Kingdom of Lana; green services or green activities, for example 3 workshops that allow to discover the traditional life of northern and southern Thailand in the heart of its villages (Pa-Ngiam Homestay, Baan Doi Din Daeng Pottery, Varni Southern Wickery).
The curious will also be interested in the efforts made by the authorities to protect the oceans with a waste collection project that began in Ko Samed called “Upclycling the Ocean Project” – in just 5 hours, a group of 100 volunteers managed to recover 700 kilograms of waste! – as well as responsible diving courses that do not damage the seabed. Other initiatives like the “Trash Hero” initiatives in Ko Chang or Ko Tao are famous. TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn says public authorities are “well aware that several tourist destinations in Thailand are deteriorating due to environmental problems such as rubbish and wastewater pollution due to inefficient management” and they wish to “create a stakeholder collaboration network to give back to society while encouraging environmental sustainability.”
On the website, we find a ranking of the greenest cities in the world and are surprised to see Bangkok become part of it thanks to its “green lung” Bang Kra chao. We advise to rent a bike to travel around the peninsula and sleep in a hut perched on the edge of the Chao Phraya in Bangkok Tree House which has a “Green Alphabet”: “Air quality control” to “Zero waste goal” through “Energy efficient Lighting” and “Trash free river”, a celebration of nature in the heart of the capital.
Thailand would produce more than 25 million tons of waste per year. To address this problem, the government has published a teaching booklet entitled “Zero Waste Mission” with useful suggestions on how to reduce, reuse, recycle waste. We also learn on the website that the country is developing its fleet of electric taxis: 150 baht for the first two kilometers and 16 baht per kilometer. This fleet of taxis is expected to expand to 1,000 vehicles in 2019. The TAT also seeks to awaken in an original and artistic way the environmental, cultural and social consciousness of the inhabitants and the visitors by placing the responsible tourism at the heart of a brilliant documentary series of voyages: “The Seasons”.
In the sandstone of the three seasons… “Winter is not coming.”
These 12 3-minute episodes are progressively unveiled from November 2018 until October 2019 and follow the success of the first series “Insight Thainess”. Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Communication, says the series, “continues to promote Thai values (…) while placing emphasis on the importance of sustainable and responsible tourism as each episode narrates inspiring stories of the kingdom through three magical times of the year.”
This sublime series composed of landscape images as stunning as the next, without comments and simply accompanied by delicate music, invites to responsible travel revealing the unique way of life of Thai people and the green bowers, sometimes unknown, from different regions. There are 4 episodes for each of the three seasons: rainy (March-October), cool (November-February) and summer (March-May).
The launched episodes feature diversity of destinations across the country including Hala Bala (in Yala and Narathiwat), Hin-Sam-Wan (in Bueng Kan), Wat Phra Bat Pu Pha Daeng (in Lampang), Doi Pha Mi (in Chiang Rai), Libong (in Trang), Ko Khao Yai’s 1,000 Pagodas (in Satun), Thale Noi (in Phatthalung), Sam Phan Bok (in Ubon Ratchathani), and Ko Pha Luai (in Surat Thani.)
Stay tuned on TATnews because 3 new episodes will enlighten us on the magnificence of Thailand and on the website of Latitudes because the next tourism article arrives in August about gastronomy in the emerging destinations…