Responsible Tourism initiatives
on Koh Mak
With visitor numbers growing, Koh Mak’s Tourism Authority has an increased awareness of the effects on the island, knowing that this can do both, good, and bad to local communities. Together with the governmental organisation DASTA (Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration), they decided to take action and protect Koh Mak’s peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty by launching initiatives which are in line with sustainable development.
Under the slogan “Low Carbon Destination Koh Mak”, so far the following can be seen on the island:
“Low Carbon” – activities
Having fun on Koh Mak is easy – there are many activities to choose from, all with a focus on low impact to the environment. Whether you want to kayak to a neighbouring island, try to find Nemo while snorkelling, experience the beauty of a starry night on a night fishing trip or learn how to cook delicious local meals while having a stunning view of the ocean – you won’t get bored. Other options include (beach-) volleyball, cycling, and hiking. However, you can also just relax happily on the beach while reading a book or spoil yourself and get a wonderful massage.
As part of a current marketing initiative aptly named ‘Castaway’, famous local bloggers were recently invited to the island to test the excellent opportunities and share their experiences online.
Here are some of the environmental solutions in place that will continue to make Koh Mak a destination of choice to the discerning traveller:
Waste management is always a challenge, especially on little islands. Therefore, Koh Mak has opened a recycling station featuring a pyrolysis machine that turns plastic into Diesel fuel. In addition to such innovation, plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminium, glass and hazardous waste is also being separated, reducing the amount of material in need of disposal and creating real solutions to the problem.
Several hotels and restaurants have taken the initiative and have started to grow their own organic fruits and vegetables. Freshly grown Papayas, lettuces, soy sprouts, tomatoes and other such produce is not only much healthier than vegetables grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it are also so much tastier! Plus, growing locally means avoiding the CO2 intensive transport from the main land and enables kitchens to serve amazing fresh food.
Crab release project
Crabs of the local environment have a hard life nowadays due to overfishing and pollution which are increasing not only in Thailand, but also throughout the region. On Koh Mak, crabs are bred and released into the ocean to help re-create a healthy underwater ecosystem. Visitors can join the conservation effort and release crabs themselves, ensuring population growth and allowing the visitor to participate in sustainable tourism.
Solar energy is one of the cleanest energy sources available. In the sunny, coastal regions of Thailand, this source is particularly beneficial to these communities. For these reasons, some of the larger or more innovative resorts have already installed photovoltaic plants to relieve pressure on the fossil fuel powered generator of the island.
These initiatives are a great start into a truly sustainable destination development. As the island community moves into the future, it will be exciting to see with which other projects in tourism development, Koh Mak undertakes as it continues on its path!
A responsible tourism development needs the participation of all stakeholders, so please have a look what you can do as a tourist while having a great time and staying safe:
The Author: Judith Schneider is a tourism professional with a Masters in Responsible Tourism Management. She has a love for Thailand, its people and culture and currently lives in Bangkok, where she works as a consultant and accredited auditor for Green Globe.
Green Globe is the premier international certification program for sustainability in tourism. Members receive a broad framework which helps them to become more sustainable while operating professionally and (cost-) effectively. Once certified, Green Globe also assists those businesses in their PR efforts to spread their success in sustainability into the world.
Contact Judith for more information: Judith.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their website www.greenglobe.com.
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