Thai Tourism Authority plans to boost Eco-Tourism

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revealed plans to create links with responsible tour operators as it shifts its main focus from social and economic development to eco tourism with the “green routes”.

In a conference coinciding with Thai New Year celebrations earlier this month, TAT discussed the progress of a largely EU-funded green initiative set to balance the ecological impact of the country’s £11.8 million a year tourism industry.

The £200,000 project, 75% of which is funded by the EU and the rest by the Thai government and TAT, links “Green Leaf” certified hotels, with fair trade communities, responsible restaurants, tour guides and tour operators in so-called ‘green routes’.

The president of the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association, Supaporn Prach-Umpai, said that through creating minimum standards for suppliers, green routes aim “to maximise socio-economic benefit to communities, cultural heritage and the environment and to minimise the impact that can occur.”

Prach-Umpai admitted there was still some way to go: “We have to accept that even the overseas market – Europe, America, Asia – we don’t see high demand. Even though people want sustainable products in shops, we have to create awareness in the travel market.”