London, 06 November, 2018 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced the 2018 winners of the Responsible Thailand Awards, in conjunction with Wanderlust Travel Media, during the World Travel Market (WTM) at a lunch ceremony on 5 November presided over by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E. 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, help protect the country whilst engaging and educating tourists on local environmental issues.
Since June 2018, readers of the Wanderlust magazine have been nominating the organisations they felt deserved recognition for their sustainable work across six categories:
- Marine, Nature and Heritage
- Animal Welfare
- Community-based Tourism
- Best Eco-Lodge/Hotel
- Best Hotel
- Green Steps
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said: “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 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.”
In October 2018, a leading panel of expert judges had the unenviable task of choosing just six winners, casting their deciding vote on consumers’ nominations.
- 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:
Marine, Nature and Heritage
WINNER – Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Merlin Beach
Profile: Phuket Marriott Resort and 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 restoration of the unique reef ecosystem in front of the hotel and is involved in the Mangroves for the Future Project. The hotel employs fulltime 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 the 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.
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.
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.
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 are fully committed to sustainability and is a model for how a luxury travel experience can also educate and conserve.
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 revenue 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.
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 and Sports, H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat on Monday, 5 November, at the WTM 2018.
For more information, please visit: www.responsiblethailand.co.uk