World Conservation Day: Destinations to consider based on eco-friendliness

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Renowned for its diverse natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Thailand has taken remarkable strides in promoting sustainable tourism practices and preserving its delicate ecosystems. This is a sentiment that resonates with South African travellers; who have shown themselves to be eager proponents of sustainable tourism. This is according to the Expedia Group’s 2023 Traveler Value Index which revealed that South African travellers consider the sustainability of destinations and their travel choices 10% more than Americans.

As we celebrate World Nature Conservation Day on 28 July, a day aimed at spreading awareness regarding the protection of nature and biodiversity for a healthy environment which is required for prospering humankind, Sadudee Sangnil, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in London, expresses that the foundation for a healthy society is a healthy environment. She shares that this kind of travel has become a trend, with 69% of global travellers revealing that they would be traveling sustainably in 2023.

“It has become even more important that countries respond to this need and recognise the importance of responsible tourism. It is for this reason that Thailand has implemented several initiatives aimed at preserving its natural wonders while offering unique experiences for visitors such as establishing and management of national parks and implementing responsible diving practices to protect its stunning coral reefs and marine ecosystems to name a few,” says Sadudee.

Some of the efforts towards promoting Thailand’s appeal to eco-tourists, the Tourism Authority of Thailand hosts annual awards that recognise the country’s leading destinations. Three of these pristine locations were awarded for their sustainable and enviro-conscious offerings at the most recent Responsible Thailand Tourism Awards. Considering eco-tourism in the future? Here are some destinations to consider in Thailand:

1.     The Sarojin, Khao Lak

Coming as the winner of the Responsible Thailand Award 2022 in the hotel category, The Sarojin has always been at the forefront of sustainability and eco-tourism in the country.  This continued commitment and stance in the cause was once again recognised by the judges who praised the hotel’s ‘One Booking One Tree’ initiative which launched in October last year. This initiative sees The Sarojin plant at least one tree for every booking made, with a forecast that a total of 14,400 trees would be planted by the end of the year.

The secluded luxury boutique beach resort is frequented by love birds who arrive on a quest to reconnect with each other and with life. It is located on a 11 km white sand beach which is within easy reach of Similan Islands, Phang Nga Bay and five stunning national parks.

2.     Big Blue Conservation in 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 is an initiative dedicated to protecting the island’s delicate ecosystems and educating both locals and tourists on the important of nature conservation.

Big Blue Conservation partners with several local diving schools as well as governmental initiatives to monitor aspects such as the maintenances 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.

3.     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 is actively involved in rallying 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.

As Sangnil concludes: “We look forward to welcoming South African travellers in various destinations in Thailand and encourage them to get involved in community-based tourism initiatives to continue the work of sustainable travel. As a country, 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.”

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