Elephant welfare, turtle rehabilitation and marine life at heart of Thailand’s responsible tourism mandate

Strategies to protect the ecosystem and wildlife for the long-term sustainability of the country are at the core of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) commitment to responsible tourism, with the tourism board introducing the Responsible Thailand Awards in 2019.

“Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and welcomes over 39 million visitors annually, of which over 500,000 come from the MENA region,” said Pichaya Saisaengchan, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for Dubai and the Middle East. “In order to preserve the natural habitat, wildlife and traditions of the kingdom, it is our responsibility to ensure that we regulate the impact of mass tourism on the ecosystem and engage with our local partners to ensure responsible tourism that is sustainable.”

Thailand benefits from a number of esteemed wildlife initiatives and conservation programmes that contribute towards the greater good of Thailand, yet have been affected by the impact of COVID-19 with regards to funding and volunteering.

“The impact of the global pandemic has left a funding gap for the world’s wildlife initiatives, many of which rely on tourism for their revenue streams. We would like to support them by highlighting legitimate organisations and initiatives that are doing great work in the kingdom, and how tourists can continue to support them whilst travel is restricted,” confirmed Pichaya.

Engage with volunteering programmes

Early in the year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand – in collaboration with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, as well as public and private sectors of the island of Ko Tao – launched ‘The One for Nature’ project to protect, rehabilitate, and conserve Thailand’s natural resources through responsible tourism.

Sponsor an elephant

The current global travel ban has seen camps struggle to cover the costs of welfare for the elephants they look after due to the dependency of tourism income. Thai non–profit organization, Save Elephant Foundation, provides assistance to Thailand’s elephants through community outreach, rescue and rehabilitation programs, and educational ecotourism operations. The conservation of the elephants has even inspired Bangkok-based jewellery brand, Pattaraphan, to launch the ‘Tusk Earring Collection’ with 10% of the sales proceeds donated to support the elephants. Enthusiasts of Thailand’s elephants can lend their support through sponsorship programs, which help provide food, medical care and shelter.

Support thriving turtles with a stay in 2021

Turtles have made a comeback this year, as Thailand’s beaches remain deserted due to the countrywide lockdown. On the island of Koh Samui, a giant mother turtle laid her eggs, which have been cared for by Banyan Tree Samui’s sustainability team and the local Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, protecting them from predators to ensure the survival of the hatchlings.

Around 200 green turtles hatched in April with exciting moments captured by the Banyan Tree team and shared on their social platforms. In addition, Thailand recorded the largest number of leatherback turtle nests in two decades on beaches in Phuket and Phang Nga. Travellers can support the conservation of the Banyan Tree Samui’s thriving turtle population by booking now for stays in 2021.

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