The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced the winners of the 12th Responsible Thailand Awards recognizing the Kingdom’s champions of sustainable tourism in the Marine and Nature, Community-based Tourism, Animal Welfare, Eco Accommodation and New Green Steps categories.
The six winners include: 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; and Green Steps Winner – Nutty’s Adventures.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said, “I would 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.”
He said a global pause on travel, during the COVID-19 pandemic had given the Earth time to breathe, and a chance for nature to revive itself. The improvements can be seen worldwide both in the reduction in pollution and rehabilitation of flora and fauna.
Mr. Yuthasak said, “In 2021, we 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. This will see a new, clear set of standards, based on the Cruelty Prevention and Animal Welfare Act, put in place which will be enforced, examined and regularly audited by a new government unit.”
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 travelers.
In the country’s continued war against plastic and trash, TAT is also collaborating with ‘Upcycling the Oceans, Thailand’, which aims to preserve the country’s sea and coastal areas. Thailand is also limiting the number of visitors to all 154 national parks combined with a strict no plastic policy while partnering with the Thai Hotels Association (THA) to reduce single-use plastic and waste.
“This is why, despite halting travel to Thailand, we opened our awards earlier this year. We saw an opportunity to help add to the conservation and encourage travelers to reflect on positive eco-experiences at a time when people were quickly becoming more aware of the impact of travel on the planet,” Mr. Yuthasak concluded.
Launched 12 years ago, the Responsible Thailand Awards gain more interest each year. The 2020 awards saw 595 Thai tourism businesses nominated, or almost double the number of nominations in the previous years, testament to the growing commitment travelers have to responsible travel.
This year’s winners were selected by the judging panel comprising some of the leading lights of the travel world. They include Mr. Derek Moore, Chairman of AITO – The Specialist Travel Association; Ms. Clare Jenkinson, Sustainability Manager of ABTA – The Travel Association; Ms. Julie Middleton, The Travel Foundation; Mr. Martin Symington, award-winning travel journalist; and Ms. Lyn Hughes, Founder and Editor in Chief of Wanderlust magazine.