London, 8 November, 2022 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced the winners of the Responsible Thailand Awards 2022 – the 15th edition of the much-valued accolades which recognise the kingdom’s champions of sustainable tourism in the categories of Animal Welfare, Community Based Tourism, Eco Lodge/Eco Hotel, Hotel, Marine, Nature and Heritage, and Green Steps.
The Awards were presented at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on 7 November, 2022, in a ceremony presided over by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E. Mr. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. The award ceremony was held as part of Thailand’s participation at WTM 2022.
The winners are Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai (Animal Welfare), Laem Sak Community Tourism Enterprise in Krabi (Community Based Tourism), Tongsai Bay on Ko Samui, Surat Thani (Eco Lodge/Eco Hotel), The Sarojin in Khao Lak, Phang-nga (Hotel), Big Blue Conservation in on Ko Tao, Surat Thani (Marine, Nature and Heritage), and Gentle Giants (Green Steps).
Since their launch, the Responsible Thailand Awards have steadily gained more interest each year. The 2022 awards saw 1,602 Thai tourism businesses nominated, nearly three times the number of nominations in the 2020 awards which was the last time they were held.
This shows the increasing commitment of both travellers and Thai tourism businesses towards more sustainable, more responsible and more environment-friendly travel – the direction Thailand is increasingly heading in with the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022-2023: Amazing New Chapters’ marketing campaign and the adoption of the Thai government’s Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model in transforming the industry.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said “It is wonderful to see more and more interest in the Responsible Thailand Awards each year they are held, and I would like to express my warmest thanks and congratulations to the 2022 winners. More sustainable, more responsible and more inclusive travel is now more important and more relevant than ever, and through these awards we seek to recognize the fantastic efforts of not just the winners but the wider tourism industry as well as the travellers who embrace the experiences on offer.”
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. This year’s winners were again selected by the judging panel comprising some of the leading lights of the travel world, namely Mr. Derek Moore, Chairman of AITO – The Specialist Travel Association; Mr. Martin Symington, award-winning travel journalist; Ms. Lyn Hughes, Founder and Editor in Chief of Wanderlust magazine; and Mr. Mark Stratton, travel writer and broacaster.
Best Animal Welfare: Elephant Nature Park
Elephant Nature Park provides a safe haven for more than 100 rescued elephants and is the first elephant sanctuary of its kind established in Thailand. Many of the elephants living at the sanctuary have been rescued from street begging, elephant riding, and shows, where they often sustained both physical and psychological injuries. The park’s herds include blind, crippled, orphaned,and ‘senior’ elephants, who are now free to live a peaceful life in natural surroundings, where they are loved and respected. In addition, ENP supports the local community by creating jobs and purchasing locally grown produce.
Judges’ comments: Apart from all the usual elephant activities they also do rainforest restoration, have educational programmes, they set up Eleflix during the pandemic, they have 4 vets on site, they have their Elephant Food Bank, they have their Farm to Herd initiative, and they set up their Jumbo Express mobile clinic. A clear winner!
Best Community Based Tourism: Laem Sak Community Tourism Enterprise
Laem Sak Community Tourism Entreprise consists of 400 members within the Laem Sak sub-district of Krabi province, who live in 10 different villages. Laem Sak Community Tourism’s objectives are to protect the marine and coastal resources in the Ao Luek area, to promote community tourism as a tool for local development in this multi-cultural community, and to provide local tourism services and foster cultural exchange. Laem Sak Community Tourism Entreprise actively engages the youth and locals to operate tours in the Ao Luek area and to increase income for the fishing families and farmers.
Judges’ comments: Just what community tourism should be about. They have delivered the following positive result: 12 micro-enterprises directly benefiting from community tourism, 400 community members positively impacted directly and more than1,000 travellers visiting the community.
Best Eco-Lodge / Eco-Hotel: Tongsai bay
The Tongsai Bay was the first five-star luxury hotel to be built on the island of Ko Samui. Since it was established in 1987, the Tongsai Bay continues to underscore the environment. The Tongsai Bay has won many awards for its ability to implement innovative environmental practices.
Judges’ comments: An impressive Green Policy which encompasses so many aspects of sustainability. And we love the way guests are informed an educated on the issues, helping them to make the right choices.
BEST Hotel: The Sarojin
The Sarojin is a luxury boutique residence located in Khao Lak. Well-known for its luxury offering, impeccable service, fine dining, ‘Just for Two’ experiences and community involvement, the Sarojin also operates a number of sustainable and green initiatives to minimize the resort’s and guest’s impact on the environment.
Judges’ comments: This hotel never rests on its laurels but consistently strives to improve its sustainability credentials as their newly launched “One Booking One Tree” initiative shows. Impressive.
Best Marine, Nature and Heritage: Big Blue Conservation
Big Blue Conservation is a marine conservation initiative on Ko Tao. As well as offering diving through its own diving school, it works with other dive businesses to ensure best practice around the island’s reefs, offers conservation courses, monitors reef systems, organises beach clean-ups and contributes to global marine research and works to protect the environment around Ko Tao.
Judges’ comments: From working in partnership with other businesses to offering a marine biologist for a week course, but also community involvement, education of locals and visitors alike, and important marine research.
Best Green Steps: Gentle Giants
An NGO which has been sponsoring riding camp elephants during COVID-19, have a new initiaive to rewild former captive riding camp elephants in native jungle by supporting the incomes of Karen hilltribe villagers (the people that rent them to the camps).
Judges’ comments: They’re launching a remarkable new scheme – this potentially could be the next level up from rescuing elephants by actually semi-rewilding them in a way that benefits a marginalized community.