Responsible tourism in Thailand
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Responsible tourism is a relatively modern concept in the Kingdom of Thailand, that took root in the late-1990s. It is underpinned by the belief that tourism should develop in a manner that minimizes negative impacts on local communities, and wherever possible ensures that a positive symbiosis exist between hosts and visitors. Responsible travel promotes a respect for indigenous culture, the minimization of the negative environmental impacts of tourism, active participation in volunteering to assist local communities, and the structuring of businesses to benefit the final service provider rather than an international agent.
Inbound tourism to Thailand developed exponentially over the last four decades into a mainstay of the Thai economy. The tourism industry in Thailand today is diverse, offering a broad spectrum of services and accommodation across the kingdom, ranging from grass-thatched bungalows to luxury hotels that are recognized as global leaders in the hospitality field. The tendency to support and promote responsible tourism in the nation was aligned to the development of environmental concern over the ravages caused by tourism both within Thailand and abroad.
Promotion of responsible tourism in Thailand
In July 2009, the German ambassador to Thailand, Hanns Schumacher, noted that, "Investment in eco-friendly tourism is the only way to create sustainable income in tourism. In some cases,...ecological destruction could cost much more to repair than the investment to prevent it." His comments reflected the impressions of many visitors to the country who observe a lack of proper waste management, poorly managed water supply and sanitation, and construction that damages the environment.
The tourism sector in Thailand was designated as a flagship programme of the Greater Mekong Subregion's Economic Cooperation Program, noting that it could improve socio-economic development and conservation of the kingdom's natural and cultural heritage. This strategy was devised with assistance from the Asian Development Bank. Specifically, the objectives of the strategy are to "add to the tourism development efforts of each country, by fostering a sustainable tourism development approach, by contributing to poverty reduction, gender equality and empowerment of women, while minimizing any adverse impacts".
Thailand has 1,215 agritourism sites nationwide. About two million Thai and foreign tourists are expected to travel to agritourism sites in 2016, with Thai tourists likely to spend about 1.86 billion baht and foreign tourists about 12 billion baht. Domestic agritourism, a business in which farmers open their properties to visitors, is projected to generate over 370 million baht for farmers over the mid-July 2016 five-day break alone. Some 500,000 foreign and Thai tourists are expected to visit farmers engaging in crop and livestock farming during the holiday. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports have promoted domestic agritourism in line with the government's policy to stimulate domestic tourism.
Responsible tourism and the Thai sufficiency economy
The fundamental factors of responsible, or sustainable, tourism in Thailand are readily understood within the country to reflect the monarch's concept of a Thailand sufficiency economy with its emphasis on moderate, self-dependent life without greed or overexploitation of natural resources.
- Wipatayotin, Apinya (13 July 2016). "Agritourism likely to pull in B370m". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
- Tourism Authority of Thailand Guide to Sustainable Tourism Archived November 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- The Asian Development Bank's Greater Mekong Subregion programme. Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.