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Sustainable Tourism Thailand

Thailand’s leading sustainable tourism destinations

The magnitude of the environmental and social pressures being placed on communities worldwide has strengthened the call for responsible living. Nowhere is this heightened awareness taking root more evidently than in the global travel industry.

Sadudee Sangnil, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand London office, comments that the “sustainable travel trend, which gained momentum in 2022, will continue to bring issues around the environmental and social impact of travel to the forefront of public discourse well into 2023. As one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, we are fully on board with the global shift towards more responsible travel practices. 

We hope that through our multi-layered and strategic approach to positioning Thailand as a sustainable travel hotspot, we can set an example for other popular destinations and play a role in moulding the industry of the future.”  

Sustainability factors include aspects such as how travel impacts the natural environment of the location, whether water- and energy-efficient processes are in place and how the industry impacts indigenous communities in and around the destination.

Sangnil welcomes this “impact-focused” approach to travel and believes that thinking of tourism holistically is the key to building a more sustainable industry. As she explains: “eco-tourism reaps multiple benefits for travellers, local communities and the environment. It also provides countries like Thailand with the opportunity to build its economy in a way that will preserve its natural resources, landscapes, wildlife and people for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

As part of its efforts towards promoting Thailand’s appeal to eco-tourists, the Tourism Authority of Thailand hosts annual awards which recognise the country’s leading destinations. Three of the pristine locations that received awards for their sustainable and enviro-conscious offerings at the most recent Thailand Tourism Awards are:

Big Blue Conservation on Ko Tao, Surat Thani

Ko Tao is an island that is part of the Chumphon Archipelago on the western shore of Thailand. Covering an area of around 21 kilometres, the area is home to some of the world’s most fascinating marine and coastal life, as well as dense vegetation that is indigenous to the region. Big Blue Conservation, an initiative dedicated to protecting the island’s delicate ecosystems, educates both locals and tourists on the importance of nature conservation. 

Big Blue Conservation partners with several local diving schools as well as government initiatives to monitor aspects such as the maintenance of dive site mooring lines to ensure that the activities of the island’s dive centres make the smallest possible impact on the reefs. Visitors to the area can take conservation courses, get involved in beach clean-ups and learn more about the marine research being conducted in the area. 

Laem Sak Community Tourism Enterprise

An hour’s drive from Krabi airport is a collection of 10 villages – the homes of 400 members who make up the Laem Sak Community Tourism Enterprise. The initiative’s main aims are to protect the marine and coastal resources within the surrounding areas and use community tourism as a tool for local development. The Enterprise actively rallies the youth and community members to operate tours and boost the income-earning potential of fashion and farming families. 

Apart from its renowned natural beauty, Laem Sak is also steeped in cultural heritage. The region is home to a community of Buddhists and Muslims who have lived together in unity for many years. Together, these two religious communities have become the custodians of the village’s bountiful biodiversity.

Tongsai Bay on Ko Samui, Surat Thani

As the first five-star luxury hotel built on the island of Ko Samui, the Tongsai Bay Hotel holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and tourists. Since its establishment in 1987, the hotel has prioritised the well-being of the area’s natural resources. It has implemented various conversation processes to protect the indigenous wildlife and vegetation that surrounds this lush, thriving part of Thailand.

The hotel runs under a stringent Green Policy that governs all its operations and encompasses several aspects of sustainability, including educating guests on how to make responsible decisions during their stay. 

As Sangnil concludes: “We look forward to welcoming South African travellers in 2023 and anticipate the many positive changes that are underway in Thailand. Going forward, we will continue to implement a sustainability-first approach to tourism. We hope to inspire more people to come to an appreciation of their role as individual travellers in exploring our world in a way that is responsible and kind to both people and the planet.”

Visit for more Thailand destinations.

Image credits: Planeterra and Laem Sak Community
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