When you think about eco-friendly travel and tourism, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a resort that uses solar power, or a wildlife tour company that fights for the rights of endangered species? Green tourism can appear in many forms and every initiative is important when it comes to protecting the environment.
Over the last few years, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has been increasingly refocusing on turning the kingdom into an environmentally friendly destination.
What Does Green Tourism Mean?
The goal is to blend together the careful and effective use of precious resources with a respect for the beautiful natural environment of Thailand. A balance must be struck between generating revenues from tourism and protecting the natural eco system.
However, this will be a challenge because, of course, the moment you step onto a plane you start to pollute. Tourism can help to create jobs, open minds, educate, build understanding between cultures, charge your batteries and bring families together… but can it really contribute to a greener planet?
Is Tourism Really Green in Thailand?
Let’s take a look at the Banyan Tree Resort in Phuket. This resort won the Thailand Green Awards in 2011 for its commitment to being eco-friendly. The 173 villa property planted over 12,000 trees in a reforestation project and also funded the repair of 58 boats for local fishermen after the tsunami. The resort holds environmental conservation as a high priority, as well as supporting the local community.
However, there are contradictions in this – the Banyan Tree is a 5 star resort so air conditioning is offered in all of its rooms – a huge environmental factor. A tiny guesthouse without air-con might actually be the more eco-friendly choice. The question is – are these hotels really green or are is this just a fashionable spin that they put on for the sake of tourism?
Tips for Green Tourism in Thailand
If you want to experience beautiful Thailand in an environmentally friendly way, here are some tips to keep in mind for your trip:
- Stay in an eco-lodge in Northern Thailand. These lodges employ local village elders as their guides and they focus on cultural education and exchange, conserving the heritage and natural ways of these tribes.
- Go on an eco-friendly fishing tour on an electrically powered speedboat.
- If you want to take a ride on an elephant, check to make sure that you are visiting a sanctuary that cares for its elephants and treats them well. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary or Pattaya’s Elephant Village are two good examples.
- Encourage taxis and buses to turn off their engines while waiting in traffic.
- Keep in mind that some tour companies will use the words “Eco travel” and “Eco tourism” in their advertising because they know it is popular, but they actually won’t be very environmentally friendly. Take your time to learn more about their services and whether they really do care.
- If you want to be really green, stay in a hotel that grows their own vegetables and rice without pesticides.
- Or, if you want to clean up the environment you can take time to clean up rubbish along the way when visiting Thailand.
Remember, we all share one planet – so taking care of the environment here in Thailand will benefit the entire world and will help us to build a better tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on environmentally friendly tourism in Thailand? Let us know in the comments!