Ecotourism Is Thriving In Thailand

Phi phi islands cliffs
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Most would agree that traveling to another country is an exciting experience. It’s fascinating to learn about different cultures, try out new food, attempt new activities like Phuket scuba diving, and explore different terrains. Additionally, traveling can be a learning and healing experience or a gateway to new opportunities or inspiration.

Traveling is exciting for the person traveling, but it’s also beneficial to the local people. Many people in foreign countries rely heavily on tourism as their primary source of income, so they’re welcoming and supportive of tourists coming to their country. 

However, there is a way to be more environmentally friendly when you travel while also helping the locals, economy, and environment with ecotourism. Today, let’s talk about ecotourism, including its benefits, and why Thailand is an excellent option for an eco-friendly vacation. We’ll also share some of the best eco-friendly activities and give you some tips to make your vacation as sustainable as possible.

Ecotourism Is Thriving In Thailand

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism has numerous names, including ethical tourism, sustainable tourism, responsible tourism, and green tourism. But what exactly does it mean, you may ask? Many people may have heard these sayings before but are confused about the actual definition. Ecotourism is the act of traveling responsibly in natural areas that also benefits the environment, economy, and locals.

Ecotourism isn’t a new concept; it can be traced back to 1901 with the Sierra’s Club Outing Program. However, not enough people know what it means to be environmentally friendly when they travel and how to implement sustainable practices on vacation. For a trip to be considered ecotourism, there are criteria listed by the International Ecotourism Society that must be followed. These principles include:

  • Minimizing your impact; physically, psychologically, behaviorally, and socially.
  • Display the utmost respect while building awareness culturally and environmentally.
  • Ensure that both tourists and locals have a positive experience.
  • Ensure funds will be contributed for conservation purposes.
  • Ensure that funds will be dispersed equally to local and privately owned businesses and companies.
  • Help tourists have memorable and impactful experiences that will raise awareness of the country’s political, social climates, and environmental aspects. 
  • Contribute to the community by designing, building, and running facilities that have low impact.
  • Assist in empowering the spiritual beliefs and rights of the locals in the community.

What Are The Benefits Of Ecotourism?

Ecotourism

The goal of ecotourism is to ensure that everyone benefits from foreigners visiting other countries. The way that tourists behave and conduct themselves when traveling can make a significant impact on the lives of the locals. As you can imagine, the advantages of ecotourism are endless, but here are the most valuable benefits:

1. Ecotourism Creates Jobs

As briefly discussed before, people depend on tourists to supply their income in many countries. The more people visit, the more business for the locals, enhancing their quality of life because they will generate more revenue, live more comfortably, and provide for their families. This is why it is crucial to buy local items and services as much as possible.

2. Tourists Get The Local Experience

Many people who travel will often stay in areas with many tourists, and they won’t get an authentic cultural experience. But a big part of ecotourism includes interacting with the locals and learning about their culture and everyday life. Visiting local areas, eating at traditional restaurants, and doing activities that the locals operate will educate you about the unique culture and way of life. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to the locals to find out more about their life and story.

3. Ecotourism Can Inspire Change

Traveling can really open your eyes to how different it is in other countries. A lot of people are less fortunate and live below the poverty line. The more you talk to locals, the more you will learn about the area and some of the biggest problems. After seeing what the locals have to experience daily, it may inspire you to do something to help, such as create a charity where you raise money for a particular cause or gather up a team of volunteers to help fix a prominent issue in the community.

Thailand jungle

4. Visitors Can Be More Aware And Lower Their Carbon Footprint

If you are on a mission to make your trip as eco-friendly as possible, you can definitely lower your carbon footprint. You can do countless easy things to make your trip more sustainable. Some examples include:

  • Buying seasonal and local products and foods
  • Eating a plant-based diet
  • Using reusable shopping bags
  • Reuse your hotel towels for a few days
  • Limit transportation that emits carbon dioxide
  • Avoid buying plastic items that are only single-use
  • Recycle
  • Take quicker showers and turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth or washing dishes
  • Turn off the lights, TV, and AC when not in use

Why Is Thailand An Excellent Choice For An Eco-Friendly Vacation?

If you are looking for the perfect destination to practice ecotourism, Thailand is the best choice! Thailand prides itself on being an extremely eco-friendly country and takes many measures to benefit the environment. Here are some of the sustainable practices they have implemented or plan to implement:

  • The Thai Government is working on going paperless.
  • Many establishments won’t give out plastic bags.
  • They don’t hesitate to close down certain areas to the public if it benefits the environment. For example, they closed down the famous Maya Beach, and hundreds of sharks have returned.
  • All plastic will be banned by the end of 2022.
  • They have created laws to protect forests from illegal logging and clearcutting. 

What Are The Best Eco-Friendly Activities in Thailand?

Phuket beaches

In addition to all of the significant environmentally friendly changes Thailand has implemented, they also have numerous sustainable activities. The key to eco-friendly travel is choosing activities and excursions that are fun, educational, and environmentally sound. Here are the top 5 ecotourism approved activities to do when visiting Thailand:

1. Participate In An Environmental Conservation Activity

Tourists and locals can participate in plenty of activities that strictly dedicate their services to environmental conservation. One of these programs is the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program. They focus on marine conservation and have programs that you can participate in for a day or internships that you can do for several months. In this program, there are various conservation efforts that you may do, such as helping maintain artificial coral reefs or caring for baby turtles, perfect for beginner divers.

Another excellent conservation program is Trash Hero. Trash Hero is a program started by a group of friends who wanted to help clean up the beaches in Thailand. It is now an international group that is active in over nine countries. You can participate and assist in beach clean-ups with a group of people and finish off with some drinks and food.

2. Visit A Wildlife Sanctuary

Thailand has a plethora of animal sanctuaries for people to visit. At these sanctuaries, you will get to have an up-close and personal experience with the animals while learning about the species, their conservation status, and what you can do to help. A few of the most popular ones are:

  • The Elephant Nature Park: They take in old, abused working elephants and provide them with a peaceful and relaxing place to call home for the rest of their lives.
  • The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project: They help rescue and rehabilitate gibbons illegally captured.
  • The Soi Dog Foundation: They take in street dogs and give them food, shelter, veterinary care, and lots of love!

3. Try Out Agritourism

Agritourism is where locals will open up their agricultural businesses to foreigners to come and experience what it is like to work on a farm in their country. On an agritourism excursion, you may get a land tour, try out farming, or make a product such as cheese or wine. Here are a few agritourism excursions you can try out:

  • Coffee farming in Chiang Rai
  • Visit a Buddhist ashram
  • Rice farming in the North-West
  • Organic foods farming in Nakhon Pathom
  • Learn about silk making at Jim Thompson Farm in Bangkok

3. Go Camping

Who doesn’t love a good camping trip? Well, Thailand has over 100 national parks where you can camp, observe animals in their natural environment, and enjoy being in nature. Khao Yai, Nam Pha Pa Yai, and Khao Sok are all great options for national parks to camp in Thailand. Another great thing about camping in Thailand is that you can opt to have a rural experience in a tent or go glamping and stay in a cabin.

4. Zipline Through The Jungle

Have you ever dreamed of exploring a tropical jungle in Thailand? Well, now you can zipline across one! Ziplining is an excellent eco-friendly activity because instead of walking through the wilderness, which can cause damage to plants and other species, you can overlook it from above. Plus, you get a much better view than just walking!

Have you ever dreamed of exploring a tropical jungle in Thailand? Well, now you can zipline across one! Ziplining is an excellent eco-friendly activity because instead of walking through the wilderness, which can cause damage to plants and other species, you can overlook it from above. Plus, you get a much better view than just walking!

Koh Sok National Park

How To Be More Eco-Friendly When Traveling To Thailand

We talked about reducing our carbon footprint while traveling in general, but now you may be wondering what you can do to be more eco-friendly, specifically in Thailand. You can do many things to be a more eco-friendly traveler in Thailand, and here are the top five tips to help you out:

1. Stay at an eco-friendly accommodation

Try to find local homestays for your accommodation. It’s beneficial because it puts money in locals’ pockets, you get a more authentic and cultural experience, and it will be far more educational than staying at a resort.

2. Take buses and trains whenever possible

Of course, walking or biking is the greenest way to get around, but if you are traveling a long distance, try to take a train or bus. You can engage with more locals and reduce your carbon footprint simultaneously.

3. Choose local and eco-friendly tour operators

Ensure that when you are booking activities and excursions, you are booking with locals hosting sustainable tours. It is better for the environment and provides work for the locals. 

4. Use natural sunscreen

5. Bring eco-friendly essentials

Bring a few green necessities when you are packing. These may include:

  • Reusable products such as bags, cups, straws, utensils, and containers
  • Quick-dry towels
  • Reusable cotton pads or face clothes
  • Biodegradable toiletries
  • Non-toxic bug spray

Final Thoughts

While many let loose and have a carefree attitude when on vacation, we must ensure we are as environmentally friendly as possible when traveling. Being an eco-friendly traveler isn’t as hard as many perceive it to be, especially in a sustainable country like Thailand. Making minor changes and booking activities and accommodations that support the community and environment may seem small, but they can provide numerous benefits. When individuals practice ecotourism, it helps the locals, economy, and environment. It also benefits the tourist by giving them a sense of accomplishment by knowing they have done everything they can to make a positive impact in another country. Book in with Thailand Divers and we can give you more suggestions in person! 

Phuket island map
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