The Tourism Authority of Thailand continues its push towards environmentally friendly travel with the new “7 Greens” campaign
Minimising our carbon footprint and travelling with the environment in mind are now the most important criteria for many in choosing a place to spend time. Here in Thailand, domestic tourism still has a way to go in meeting green goals and the Tourism Authority of Thailand is giving tourists a helping hand by reminding them to adopt responsible travel practices that pay attention to the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the destination.
“We are trying to motivate Thai people to be more conscious about the environment,” TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn, as he introduces new campaign, “7 Greens”.
Tourism is often cited as a cause of natural resource damage, waste and pollution. Green travel on the other hand rewards the visitor with a memorable time and provides opportunities to share with local communities through volunteering activities, which are enjoyable and regarded as a part of sustainable tourism promotion.
Three pilot destinations have been launched under the campaign: Koh Mak in Trat province, Takua Pa in Phang Nga province, and Nan province. They will serve as prototypes for the “7 Greens” project components, namely “Green Heart”, “Green Logistics”, “Green Attraction”, “Green Activity”, “Green Community”, “Green Service” and “Green Plus.”
“Everything starts with ‘Green Heart’,” Yuthasak says. “We must travel with an environmentally friendly heart. When we are travelling, the focus is on ‘Green Logistics’. This refers to the form of transportation we select, like riding a bicycle, which saves energy while also protecting the environment. ‘Green Attraction’ is about sustainable tourism. Koh Mak in Trat province is a model community that generates its electricity from solar energy, uses an incinerator that doesn’t have an environmental impact, and most importantly has no convenience stores.
“‘Green Activity’ doesn’t mean planting trees but taking part in activities that are suited to the destination such as in Nan, which is a quiet province full of cultural attractions where we can sip coffee but not make any noise. ‘Green Community’ is all about learning the value of the community and preserving its identity. Now, the government is encouraging Thais to go to more communities and secondary provinces, like Takua Pa in Phang Nga province. ‘Green Service’ is about the management of business and requires us to encourage entrepreneurs to be more aware of environmental impacts. This we are doing through a programme of awards.
The last is ‘Green Plus’ meaning helping each other to plant trees or collect wastes. But as I said, everything starts with THE ‘Green Heart’. I think that it will be the first step to protecting the environment,” he says.
Green travel can also expand our minds by promoting intercultural understanding and showing us how we are all connected. But balancing preservation of the land with a desire to travel is a challenge not just for travellers but for the places we visit.
“This ‘7 Greens’ campaign has come at the right time,” says TV host and celebrity Nithi “Job” Samudkojorn, producer of the foodtravel programme, “Samudkojorn On The Way”.
“Travel behaviour has changed and generally it’s for the better. From my encounters with folk at the local level, it’s clear that tourists are more interested in experiencing and learning from communities. And travelling is vital to stimulating the economy of these places.
“Through these pilot provinces, I discovered that natives of Koh Mak are working together to develop their communities by themselves. There’s a hotel with a sustainable waste system, a boat powered by solar panels and the pathways are lit by solar power. There’s a bicycle lane on the island and the use of vehicles and motorcycles is forbidden. Nan is about arts and culture and here tourists must respect the serene environment. Phang Nga is sometimes called ‘The Little Amazon’ for its interesting ecosystem. It’s charming and a perfect example of community-based tourism. I also find that many more tourists are paying attention to negative environmental impacts, taking part in collecting trash along the beach. I think that it is a new trend in tourism,” he adds.
English-Thai actor Alexander Simon Rendell, who goes by the name Alex, is a presenter for this campaign. He takes the work seriously too, riding his bicycle to the press conference to underline the “Green Logistics” component.
“I do a lot of work for the environment because I love travelling and like to spend time both in forests and at the sea. As a byproduct of my travels, I set up my Environmental Education Centre Thailand to promote education about the environment through camps. 7 Greens is encouraging people to travel with the environment in mind and to be friendly both towards the environment and the community. We can change people’s attitudes to environmental protection. I’m very glad to be a face of this campaign. I just came back from Japan after shooting Phi Job’s programme and found that the Japanese have very green hearts and help each other collect waste,” says Alex, who is a scuba-diving enthusiast.
The campaign is also receiving the support of Nithi Pattanapakdee, chief media officer at Major Cineplex Group, who is spreading the sustainable message through social media. The “Moviecation” collaboration is now in its third year and the “Amazing Green Route Green Movie” project runs through June 30.
For this third season, the company takes part in “Green Service” by encouraging movie-goers to buy their tickets online. The first two years saw a reduction of seven million paper tickets and this year, the cinema chain is rewarding those registering with the “Amazing Green Route Green Movie” at www.moviecation3.com with the chance to join one of 60 exclusive “7 Greens” trips.
The 10 first prizes are a two-day-one-night “Exclusive 7 Greens Trip” in Kanchanaburi Province including a visit to Malika RE 124 – the Siamese Living Heritage Town. Fifty consolation prizes of a “7 Greens Trip” including accommodation at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and air tickets are also being given out.