Going green in Thailand

In association with: Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has laid out plans to attract even more visitors in 2024 with a host of new sustainability initiatives

Defined by enchanting rainforests, breathtaking wildlife and pristine beaches, it’s no wonder that Thailand is a popular destination for UK travellers.

Now, with sustainability at the heart of its marketing campaign, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is looking ahead to 2024 with the aim of enhancing its appeal as an eco-conscious destination  as well as growing UK visitor numbers.

Rising stars

A key element of Thailand’s sustainable growth is the Star programme, which TAT has developed to encourage operators to improve their environmental responsibility.

Speaking to Travel Weekly at this year’s World Travel Market trade show in London, Nithee Seeprae, deputy governor for marketing communications at TAT, said: “It’s a certifying system. We have criteria, and if [operators] match with more than 12 criteria, they can get five stars.

“We apply the criteria from the Sustainable Development Goals, including wastewater, food waste and pollution.”

By awarding stars to operators that align with the country’s sustainability goals, TAT hopes to improve its status as a sustainable place to visit and drive tourists towards these environmentally conscious businesses.

The project was launched earlier this year and has already been a success. “We already have 300 private sector [businesses] that have joined and got the certification,” said Seeprae.

Nithee Seeprae, deputy governor for marketing communications at the Tourism Authority of Thailand

Sustainable sightseeing

Seeprae also shared details of experiences that eco-conscious travellers can expect in Thailand.

“Another thing about sustainability is that we try to promote low-carbon routes,” he said. “We coordinate with the Thai Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Association and plan routes around Thailand – in the north, in the south and the eastern part. When we arrange the tour, we try to reduce the activity that increases the carbon pollution.”

There are 25 travel routes that showcase the sights of the mainland and the islands. On these tours, travellers can enjoy everything from farming activities to vineyard visits, all with the reassurance that they’re helping to drive sustainable tourism.

There is one route, however, that Seeprae particularly praises. “The one that we recommend is in the southern part, in Ban Ton Panan,” he said.

“We combined this with a community base. So we go to the village and do many kinds of activities, such as canoeing in the mangroves, cooking the local food and trying a barbecue.”

 This route brings visitors together with local people, showcasing the special hospitality that “really impresses tourists when they come to Thailand”, he added.

Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, minister for tourism and sport and Thapanee Kiatphaibool, governor or the Tourism Authority of Thailand open the Thailand stand at WTM

Explore more

Thailand has seen a strong recovery in visitor numbers, according to Seeprae.

“There’s been more than a 100% increase from last year. Last year, we got 11 million [visitors] and this year, we’ve got around 22 million,” he said.

To distribute visitor numbers more equally to avoid high concentrations of tourists, TAT is encouraging visitors to go more off the beaten track.

“We try to promote the new destinations and the secondary cities, as most of the tourists, when they go to Thailand, many only go to the main destinations,” said Seeprae.

“We separate in terms of area and say, ‘go to the secondary city or secondary destination’.”

This not only helps support smaller communities and distributes visitors but also gives repeat visitors – and 70% of UK arrivals are returnees – the chance to see and enjoy new experiences.

To find out more about TAT and its sustainability initiatives, visit tourismthailand.org

PICTURES: Tourism Authority of Thailand

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