Last night, the Tourism Authority of Thailand announced the winners of their 12th annual Responsible Thailand Awards, recognising Thailand’s champions of sustainable tourism, reports Clodagh Dooley
I travelled to Thailand back in 2018, and I would give anything to visit the Southeast Asian country again, to explore more of the beautiful scenery (and eat more delicious Thai food!).
So, it’s great to see so many Thai businesses committed to sustaining Thailand’s natural beauty, through ‘green’ initiatives. Last night, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced the winners of their annual Responsible Thailand Awards across the categories Marine & Nature, Community Based Tourism, Animal Welfare, Eco Accommodation and New Green Steps.
Gaining more and more consumer interest each year, the 2020 awards saw almost double the number of nominations, a testament to the growing commitment travellers have to travelling more responsibly.
This year, the awards were presented virtually at an online event that welcomed consumers who shared their nominations to join an evening learning more about responsible travel to Thailand.
Commenting on the awards, initiated by the TAT London office, Director of TAT UK and Ireland Ms Chiravadee Khunsub said: “I’d like to express my sincere thanks and congratulations to this year’s winners, each of them representing the amazing work many of our tourism stakeholders are doing to protect Thailand’s natural beauty, animal welfare and local communities.
“Awards like these, recognising outstanding efforts and contributions to sustainable tourism, helps inspire the rest of Thailand’s travel industry to do more, providing motivation and inspiration for others to implement best practices.”
A global pause on travel, during the Coronavirus pandemic, has given earth time to breathe and a chance for nature to revive itself. The improvements seen the world over – the reduction in pollution and rehabilitation of wildlife, flora and fauna – cannot be ignored. “This is why, despite Coronavirus halting travel to Thailand, we opened our awards earlier this year. We saw an opportunity to help add to the conversation and encourage travellers to reflect on positive eco-experiences at a time when people were quickly becoming more aware of the impact of travel on the planet.”
Of the 595 Thai tourism businesses nominated this year, only six could be crowned a winner. The six worthy winners are:
1. Marine & Nature Winner – Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort (for its Marine Discovery Centre)
- Community Based Tourism Winner – Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary
- Animal Welfare Winner – Samui Elephant Sanctuary
- Eco Lodge / Hotel Winner – Koh Jum Beach Villas
- Hotel Winner – Khaolak Merlin
- Green Steps Winner – Nutty’s Adventures
The evening, hosted by TAT and moderated by Lyn Hughes, judge and Founder and Editor at Chief of Wanderlust magazine, was joined by fellow judge and award-winning travel journalist, Martin Symington as a guest speaker, who shared his recent green travel experiences of community-based tourism in northern Thailand. Tailor-made holiday specialists, Audley Travel, rounded off the event with a Q&A and a prize draw to win a £500 travel voucher.
Thailand is committed to making a much more considered and controlled return to tourism, with responsible travel and sustainability at the heart of their objectives. TAT is encouraging Thai hotels to sign up to UNESCO’s Sustainable Tourism Pledge, urging hotels to source locally, be it food, fabric, furniture or souvenirs and offer a more authentic experience to travellers.
In the country’s continued war against plastic and trash, TAT is collaborating with ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’ which aims to preserve the Kingdom’s sea and coastal areas: limiting the number of visitors to all 154 national parks combined with a strict no plastic policy: and partnering with the Thai Hotels Association (THA) to reduce single-use plastic and waste. Chiravadee Khunsub adds, “In 2021, we also hope to see the passing of a new animal welfare law. A ‘National Elephant Care Master Plan’ has been drafted and is awaiting government approval.”
For more information on the awards, visit www.responsiblethailand.co.uk
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