Thailand is now said to be the most visited country in Asia and among the top worldwide. But as with all popular destinations, the threat of over-tourism is real.
Yet out of the challenge, innovation thrives. Responsible and sustainable tourism is on the rise, allowing travelers to actually make a positive impact during their visit. Low impact, eco-friendly tourism has the ability to preserve, rather than destroy, a country’s natural beauty.
In Thailand, agrotourism is becoming a trend, whereby activities such as rice farming, organic coffee tours, learning farming techniques and touring tribal villages are a part of resort life geared towards education and preservation.
Andrew Jacka, chairman of the Asia Pacific Spa & Wellness Coalition, explains that agrotourism has taken place since as early as 1974. Thanks to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, its teachings of moderation and self-sufficiency continue to be practiced today. He says, “The Kingdom offers sustainable agriculture hospitality, sustainable fashion, farm-stay tourism, and increased visibility of micro, small, medium and large-scale service providers.”
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, for example, bonds elephants and humans through educational tours and ethical walks and is led by a resident veterinarian. Meanwhile, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas with The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation has guests rescuing turtle eggs from surrounding beaches. These are just two of 15 Anantara resorts in Thailand that support and operate organic farms and empower local communities.
Since 2008, the Thai hotel chain has been audited annually by Green Growth 2050 with each property expected to reach Gold level within 18 months of opening, says John Roberts, Anantara’s group director of Sustainability & Conservation, adding that they take this further by working with all their suppliers to reduce packaging and maintain ethical production. He says, “Whatever guests donate to their Dollars for Deeds programs, Anantara will match and this is distributed to elephant, turtle and other foundation charities.”
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Thailand Supplement 2019 - 2020