Responsible Thailand Awards 2018

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) unveiled the 2018 winners of their Responsible Thailand Awards, in conjunction with Wanderlust Travel Media, on Monday 5th November during World Travel Market at a lunch ceremony presided over by the Minister of Tourism & Sport, His Excellency Mr Weerasak Kowsurat.

The Responsible Thailand Awards were created to highlight, and further promote, Thailand’s dedication to the conservation of its country’s precious natural and cultural resources. The Awards recognise and celebrate organisations in the travel and tourism industry who have made an outstanding contribution to sustainable tourism developments, helping protect the country whilst engaging and educating tourists on local environmental issues.

Since June 2018 readers of Wanderlust magazine have been nominating the organisations they felt deserved recognition for their sustainable work across six categories:

  1. Marine, Nature & Heritage
  2. Animal Welfare
  3. Community Based Tourism
  4. Best Eco-Lodge/Hotel
  5. Best Hotel
  6. Green Steps

We’re so proud of the continued success of our awards and the wider interest in our Responsible Thailand campaign with Wanderlust which has seen an even greater amount of inspirational content added to the website in 2018. This year 67 nominations were submitted and over 6,400 consumers engaged in the awards, sharing their thoughts on who should be crowned a Responsible Thailand winner. It’s great that consumers are so aware of responsible travel choices in Thailand but we have a lot more work to do to educate an even greater number of visitors coming to the Kingdom.” Said Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

In October 2018 a leading panel of expert judges had the unenviable task of choosing just 6 winners, casting their deciding vote on consumers nominations.

The Judges:

  • Lyn Hughes (Editor-in-chief & Global Content Director, Wanderlust)
  • Derek Moore (Chairman, AITO)
  • Claire Jenkinson (Senior Destinations & Sustainability Manager, ABTA)
  • Martin Symington (Award-winning Travel Journalist)
  • Julie Middleton (Head of Sustainable Practice, The Travel Foundation)

The criteria the judges followed included the sustainability of each organisation, their demonstrable successes and legacy benefits for both the Kingdom and visitors to it.

The winners they collectively chose are:

  1. Marine, Nature & Heritage

WINNER! – Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach

Profile: Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach is a family-friendly resort located on a beautiful, secluded beach. In collaboration with the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) it has created the Merlin Butterfly Sanctuary, with over 30 species of butterfly. It also works with the IUCN and Sea Bees Diving to conserve the restore the unique reef ecosystem in front of the hotel and is involved in the Mangroves for the Future Project. The hotel employs full-time conservation experts and educates its guests in awareness of environmental issues and how they can help.

Judges’ comments: It’s refreshing to see a hotel think beyond the care of guests, but also proactively work on conservation of the local environment. The partnership with the IUCN is taken seriously, and the hotel clearly takes pride in the innovative work it is doing.

  1. Animal Welfare

WINNER! – Elephant Nature Park


Profile: Elephant Nature Park rescues and rehabilitates victims of the tourism and trekking industry and educates tourists on their plight. As well as its own centre it is working in collaboration with communities and other projects to promote ethical elephant experiences.

Judges’ comments: It’s heartening to see the journey that this organisation has taken. It has championed the welfare of elephants and campaigned for better lives for them. It is doing a fantastic job of educating both locals and visitors that there is a better way to treat these magnificent creatures.

  1. Community Based Tourism

WINNER! – Mahouts Elephant Foundation

Runner-Up – The Sarojin

Profile: Mahouts elephant foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of Asian elephants. It works on the ground to develop sustainable, welfare focused tourist experiences supporting the needs and livelihoods of the indigenous mahouts, their families and local communities, together with the needs of the elephants.

Judges’ comments: It’s encouraging to see an organisation combining elephant welfare and habitat conservation with benefits to communities too. Furthermore, it is offering visitors to Thailand a unique and exceptional experience. A model solution which deserves to grow and flourish.

  1. Best Eco-Lodge/Eco-Hotel

WINNER! – Elephant Hills

Profile: Elephant Hills are Thailand’s first luxury tented camps. They offer nature safaris in and around Khao Sok National Park. Activities include ethical elephant experiences, kayaking, walking and boat trips.

Judges’ comments: Elephant Hills is fully committed to sustainability and is a model for how a luxury travel experience can also educate and conserve.

  1. Best Hotel

WINNER! – The Sarojin

Runner-Up – Marriott Thailand Business Council

Profile: The Sarojin is a luxury boutique resort in Khao Lak with community engagement at its heart.

Judges’ comments: The Sarojin not only offers a great guest experience but clearly spreads the revenues from those guests locally, benefiting people, animals and the environment. Their innovative excursion programme is robust and demonstrates how well they work with the local community.

  1. Green Steps

WINNER! – Akaryn Hotel Group

Runner-Up – BEES

Profile: A small group of boutique hotels and resorts. They have removed single-use plastic from the hotels, claiming to be the first in Asia to do this.

Judges’ comments: A sterling example of what a hotel group can do to help conserve Thailand, with its ambitious initiative to remove single use plastics setting a great example to other hotels, while raising awareness among visitors. 

The winners were presented their awards by Thailand’s Minister of Tourism & Sport, His Excellency Mr Weerasak Kowsurat on Monday 5th November at WTM 2018.