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 By Michelle Groothedde, Associate Intern Sustainability & Social Responsibility, Pacific Asia Travel Association.

In Doi Inthanon National park, about 90 kilometres from Chiang Mai, in the North of Thailand, two communities, Pha Mon and Mae Klang Luang, both ethnic Karen communities, have worked in community based tourism for 11 and 18 years respectively. On a mini field trip we visited the two villages that are only 30 minutes apart and looked at the differences between them regarding history, product range, management, experience, and target markets. The villages are beautifully located in the mountains surrounded by stunning rice fields. 

The trip was organised in order to learn from CBT in Thailand for the Myanmar CBT Network. The Myanmar Community-Based Tourism Network was set up in March 2016 as a joint initiative of Tourism Transparency and ActionAid and is an informal network that provides a platform of exchange for interested stakeholders, such as travel agents/tour operators, tour guides, NGOs, communities, and government.

 

 

Community based tourism (CBT) means that tourists visit a local community, which is often located in rural and well-preserved areas, to get a rich and engaging experience of a local community’s traditional cultures and way of life. The community benefits from CBT by getting that little bit of extra income that can be used for various things, such as support in education, construction, environmental projects, and medical care. CBT is a real challenge for these communities as they struggle with cultural differences between themselves and tourists, and the changes and fear of losing their culture and identity that tourism brings.

Pha Mon 

Pha Mon is home to about 600 Karen people and earns approximately 1,000,000 Baht per year from CBT. Pha Mon is located 30 minutes off the main road, which makes it secluded. They offer a high value and high price experience. Their main target market are French tourists as they have established a long-term partnership with a French tour operator, Thailande Autrement, who was looking for a local community partner to further develop their cultural programmes. Pha Mon occasionally receives Thai visitors but mostly for day visits.

 

 

The average stay in Pha Mon is 3 day and 2 nights. Tourists arrive at Pha Mon village in the late afternoon, after which they are welcomed by the CBT village coordinator and have dinner. The next day the guide takes them for a walk through the village to learn about the village and its culture. They are taken around the fields, as the main source of income for both villages is agriculture and in both villages, agriculture comes before tourism, especially when it is time to harvest and all farmers are needed on the field. The Royal Project has had quite a big impact on CBT in the village and has helped to provide more income to farmers since it started.

 

 

Tourists have the chance to buy souvenirs in the form of crafted items like woven bags, traditional clothes, and baskets directly from the lady weavers. They can watch the weavers at work and can even have a go at the weaving themselves. They also learn about different food and fruits while visiting the village and villagers often invite tourists to taste and have a look around. At specific times a year the village offers traditional ceremonies performed in their paddies on the hillside during which they carry baskets with bright flowers. This is also an initiative supported by the Royal Project. After the visit to the village, the tourists can then hike to the top of Doi Thenon, which usually lasts about 2-3 hours. On this trail guests can do bird watching as this area is home to many different types of birds. There are also possibilities to do cycling tours on the mountain tracks.

 

 

 

The Pink Bamboo House 

The accommodation Pha Mon offers is called the Pink Bamboo House.

The Pink Bamboo House is located a short distance from the village surrounded by stunning rice fields with the mountains in the background. The community built the Pink Bamboo House itself and did an incredible job. It has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms with a large balcony on the first floor spanning the length of the house, inviting you to relax and enjoy the amazing views. There are beautiful little details visible in the house such as bamboo towel holders (there are many bamboo household items in the house that the construction men weaved in themselves), comfortable Thai mats to relax, and a bamboo hammock on the ground floor and it really shows the level of detail and love put into the construction of this house.

 

 

The Pink Bamboo House offers a high value and high price experience to the tourists. The house is earning the village over 1,000,000 THB per year, which is about US$30,000 and there are approximately 140 families that participated in the construction of it. The villagers mostly offer their labour in exchange for a share. The earnings from the Pink Bamboo House go to a community fund, which is used for education, environmental activities, small construction, house maintenance, and to help people in the village.

 

 

In addition to the extra income, there are more reasons for Pho Mon to engage in CBT practices. First of all, the village wants to show tourists how Karen people live in harmony with the forest and demonstrate their sustainable forest practices. They also want to teach them the local ways and culture of the village and believe it is a way of motivating community members to work together.

 

Lunch is served, all homegrown produce.

The direct benefits from community-based tourism in the village are obvious as it creates more income and more jobs, but what are the challenges?

 

Overcoming the different opinions and fears about CBT and to decide if the village wants to invite tourists to their village was the initial problem and will probably remain an issue for some time. CBT inevitably brings changes and especially the older generation is worried that their traditional culture and way of living will change in a negative way or even disappear completely. Because of the extra income CBT generates for the village, the younger generation now attends school and often university in Chiang Mai. After their studies, young adults are encouraged to come back to the village but often find it hard to find their way in the old lifestyle again. They bring modernisation to the village and the older generation doesn’t know how to manage or deal with that and believes that tourism just accelerates the problem.

 

Tomatoes grown at the village

 

Then there are some problems with communication to outside parties and organisations they work with, or that have an influence on CBT in the village. These include the national park, the government, the Royal Project, tour operators, tourists, and the Community Development Organisation. The community’s culture is the initial reason the village attracts tourists and that is what they want to display but it is sometimes difficult for the village to make outside organisations understand their norms, values and way of living. Tourists are often unaware of their expected behaviour in the village, for example, about dress code when outside the house. Villagers were often shocked when visitors would wear revealing clothes and sunbathe on the balcony. The inappropriateness of this can be difficult to communicate because of language barriers. 

 

Our tour guide for the day: local tour guide Surasit

 

The CBT village committee tries to counteract these challenges through communication and activities that help to mitigate these challenges, such as educating local guides, tourists, and villagers about different cultures and raising awareness on both sides.

 

Mae Klang Luang

 

Mae Klang Luang has a population of approximately 700 people and earns about the same amount of money per year as Pha Mon, but only by accepting larger groups at a cheaper price. Annually, an estimated 10,000 people visit the village; about 70% of them are day visitors, only 30% stay overnight and then mostly during winter season. It is noticeable that 95% of the visitors are Thai. More and more Thai students spend a night or two in the CBT village, enjoying the peace and quiet of their surroundings and the scenic environment outside the village. Mae Klang Luang is located at the entrance of Doi Intanon National Park close to the main road, which facilitates visitor flows in comparison with the more secluded Pha Mon.

 

One of the CBT houses in Mae Klang Luang.

 

For 18 years, Mae Klang Luang has been inviting tourists to stay in their community. Initially 20 villagers were involved in the CBT project and it has now developed to 80 people being involved, including people from outside communities investing in the project. The village has 11 homestay houses that are part of the CBT group, and there are also some independent houses for private homestay. Like Pha Mon, the money derived from CBT is mostly used within the village. All the CBT houses have similar prices, although the independent houses have set their own.

Tourist activities include a walk through the village, taking pictures in the new bamboo hut (specifically constructed to accommodate tourists who want to get a closer look at the rice paddies without destroying them), do a coffee tasting and then have the chance to buy the coffee. They also visit the women’s group that works together in custom weaving and tourists can buy those products as well. Mae Klang Luang is also known for its walking trail through beautiful scenery to a scenic waterfall.

 

The new bamboo hut constructed to avoid damaging the rice paddies.

 

What are the challenges in Mae Klang Luang?

 

The biggest challenge here is the same as in Pha Mon, namely, changes in culture. There have been significant changes in the village because of CBT and people in the village have different opinions on CBT and are sometimes struggling to manage it. Mae Klang Luang is different to Pha Mon because of its location and accessibility, and therefore CBT in Mae Klang Luang has grown rapidly and continues to grow. While Pha Mon only accommodates a small number of tourists, Mae Klang Luang offers a range of different accommodations and accommodates mainly day visitors. Therefore, CBT has a bigger and more visible impact in this village and is more dependent on tourism.

 

Another big challenge that Mae Klang Luang may face in the future is the competition between the private homestays and the CBT group. Initially, the independent houses were working well together with the CBT houses, but that is changing. There are more often conflicts between the two parties because the independent houses set their own prices. Managing two different systems like this is difficult. While the CBT group has clear rules and regulations and aims to contribute to the community through its community fund, independent homestays apparently tend to reduce their contribution due to the high individual cost. This complicates fairly and easily distributing benefits arising from tourism.

 

The chief of Mae Klang Luang is telling us about CBT in the village, Surasit is translating from Thai to English. 

 

Finding a balance

Pha Mon and Mae Klang Luang face both similar and different challenges doing community based tourism in the villages while having similar ways to address these challenges.

First of all, both villages have a management system in place, which is led by an elected group of people that organise every aspect of CBT in the villages. The idea is that CBT brings benefits to the overall community. The group has a coordinator who acts as a spokesperson and functions as a link between the village and outside organisations. Both villages hold monthly or 2-monthly meetings and all issues that may arise are addressed. Anybody in the village can raise concerns and the issues are then dealt with. In Pha Mon, profit is distributed as a set percentage system. Mae Klang Luang has a similar system and committee. This management system helps to keep track of all activities and income related to CBT and aims to distribute income fairly and equally.

 

 

There is now an excellent communication system, both internal and external, which makes the CBT experience better for everybody. Key to the long-term success of CBT in these villages is that the villagers themselves hold all control. There are many organisations trying to pressure and influence CBT activities but in the end all decisions go through the CBT management group in the village. The strength of the village is their united front as every member of the community counts and have a voice. Issues are addressed and discussed and they decide on the best possible solution by compromising. These villages are a best practice example of CBT that benefits both community and tourist. Tourism improves living standards of the community in the village while maintaining their culture and the natural environment. Tourists benefit from the environmental and cultural activities the village offers to give them a rich and deep understanding of the village’s culture in a responsible way.

 

Learning about CBT in Mae Klang Luang.

 

In a way they are stuck between authenticity and development and the key is to find a balance between the two to benefit from it and move forward, without losing their identity. It was hard for some people to accept CBT but the true values of the villages are still very evident and treasured, which is what makes them so special. Tourism can have a destructing effect on destinations after their discovery because of increased popularity but by controlling each and every decision based on integrity instead of monetary benefits, the effect of tourism in these villages is minimal, which benefits the village as well as the tourist as they can continue to experience a true and authentic Thai village in the mountains.

 

If you are interested in visiting either Pha Mon or Mae Klang Luang, or want to know more about the CBT network, click on the links. Learn more about the people on this field trip by clicking the links below: 

 

From left to right: Surasit Donjaipraiwan from Inthanon Dek Doi, local guide who is ex-coordinator of the Phamon CBT group Peter Richards, co-founder of the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I), Michelle Groothedde, PATA Associate Intern Sustainability & Social Responsibility, Barbara Schott, Tourism Transparency, and Potjana Suansri,  former CBT-I director, CBT pioneer in Thailand, volunteering on this field trip.

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Offenders on the Move: GLOBAL STUDY ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM 2016

Categories: Case Study, Featured Post, Human Rights, Non-Profit
Comments Off on Offenders on the Move: GLOBAL STUDY ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM 2016

The Global Study on SECTT aims to bring this gross violation of children’s right into the light, and marks the 20th anniversary of the 1st World Congress on the Sexual Exploitation of Children. Guided by a High-Level Taskforce and informed by detailed studies from every region and many countries, as well as contributions from experts and only) research initiative on SECTT to explore emerging trends and possible solutions. Read more.

Click here for Regional Reports.

 

 

*Courtesy of The Code

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CC BY-NC 2.0 Clive Derra

 

UK supermarket giant Tesco is not exactly popular with the deeper green environmentalist crowd. In fact, when they planned on opening one of their Tesco Express convenience stores in my hometown of Bristol, it literally resulted in riots.

But while there’s legitimate concern around the oversized power that Tesco wields to transform our high streets, it’s hard to deny that the company has also made some substantial and important commitments to sustainability. Whether it’s tackling food waste, deploying electric vans for deliveries or housing employees on the roofs of its stores, many of its initiatives reach beyond the ubiquitous promotion of reusable bags or selling organic produce.

Now Business Green reports that the company is making a firm, long-term commitment to the fight against climate change. Specifically, that commitment includes a promise to slash its own operational greenhouse emissions 60% by 2025, and by 100% by 2050. It has also promised to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. In the process, it became the first UK supermarket to have its climate change plans approved by the Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative.

 

Read the full article here.

By Sami Grover from The Treehugger

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Reducing Local and Direct Environmental Impacts Associated with Diving and Snorkelling Tourism Activities to Increase Reef Resilience

 

Maldives-coral-@-Reef-World-Foundation

Green Fins is currently active in 18 locations throughout Asia including the Maldives. Photo © The Reef-World Foundation

Location

Green Fins is currently active in six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, The Maldives, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam

 

The Challenge

Coral reefs are globally important ecosystems facing intense and unprecedented pressures. Major global issues like marine debris, coral bleaching and illegal fishing mean that experts predict at least 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed within the next 30 years. Meanwhile, the tourism industry dependent upon these reefs continues to show considerable economic growth. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (2014), tourism and travel sector activities generate 9.8% of GDP and support nearly 277 million people in employment, representing one in every eleven jobs globally. The World Tourism Organization predicts that, by 2020, over 1.56 billion international trips will be made each year, most of them intra-regional and with the highest numbers in Europe, followed by East Asia and the Pacific, with coastal tourism constituting a significant part of this. By Reef Resilience Program.

Find the whole article here!

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A micro-approach to sustainable tourism: how travelers can take small actions that result in large, positive impacts

Categories: Blog Posts, Case Study, Community, People and Places
Comments Off on A micro-approach to sustainable tourism: how travelers can take small actions that result in large, positive impacts

By La Carmina, travel blogger and TV host @ lacarmina.com

la-carmina-lacarmina-asia-fashion-blogger-tv-host

 

Intro

As a millennial travel blogger, I’ve noticed a rising interest among travelers my age for “authentic, immersive” experiences. I personally gravitate towards sharing stories in this vein, such as conservation safaris in South Africa, or village food tours in Vietnam. Skift’s recent report echoes this movement: “Arguably the most significant, systemic trend in worldwide tourism today is the demand for ‘experiential travel’.”

Their report adds that 71% of US travelers now prefer to travel with family and friends, and book local stays. In particular, young travelers are uninterested in joining a big bus tour, briefly hitting the landmarks and sleeping at a chain hotel. Instead, they’re keen on local, off-the-beaten-path experiences. According to Trekk Soft, travelers are increasingly expressing a “real interest in interacting in a genuine way with other people and cultures” – giving examples such as camel treks to Merzouga, and staying in yurts with Mongolian nomads.

These experience-seeking travelers might not use the word (or hashtag) “sustainable” in describing their preferred travel style, but their approach often shares the same priorities. “Sustainable tourism,” after all, focuses on making a positive, ethical impact on the local environment, community and economy.

Leisure travelers might not instinctively be drawn to “sustainable tourism”, as the first images that come to mind tend to be voluntourism in poor areas, eco-work in jungles and other challenging long-term commitments. Skift suggests they may feel daunted by the physical level required, difficult living conditions, or overall social impact of their contribution.

However, travelers can make a significant impact even in a single day of action. There are many “micro-approaches” to incorporating sustainability into a trip – such a staying at a family-run hotel, devoting a day to volunteering in the city, or taking a cooking class run by villagers in their homes.

Since these small and less intensive choices are accessible to travelers, it’s likely that more will be willing to take part – resulting in compounding positive returns for the community. These “micro-sustainable” activities are also exactly in line with the meaningful, local experiences that travelers are increasingly seeking.

Tourists will always be in need of accommodations, food, transportation, and possibly a guided tour – all of which are opportunities to support locals, and leave a small footprint. In recent years, I’ve been putting the spotlight on small, sustainable choices in these areas, which can go a long way. Here are three examples from my recent journeys, and the lessons I’ve learned.

 

Case study 1: Volunteering with Myanmar punks

Volunteering abroad can take on many forms. Like many leisure travelers, I am not able to commit to a long stint of service, such as spending several weeks or months at a rural school. I also have some health concerns that limit me from certain types of activities, and I can understand why travelers may feel uncomfortable in some circumstances, such as working at a hospital.

Regardless, there is an abundance of direct, local-led ways to make a difference in any destination. These activities can fit seamlessly with one’s personal interests and abilities, and fulfill the “authentic” experiences that travelers desire.

For example, I’ve identified with subcultures ever since I was a teenager, especially Goth and punk lifestyles. When I had the opportunity to visit Myanmar, I was surprised to learn that there is a vivid, “old-school” punk scene in Yangon. These bands perform raucous sets at dive bars, wearing spiky Mohawks, studded jewelry and ripped tops – followed by hardcore partying til morning!

However, Yangon’s rockers are also committed to helping their community from the ground up. Kyaw Kyaw, leader of the punk group Rebel Riot, started two local charities: Books Not Bombs (raising funds and supplies for schoolchildren in need), and Food Not Bombs (a weekly program where the punks and volunteers feed the homeless).

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

As someone with a passion for underground culture, I was excited to meet Myanmar’s punks and help out with their non-profits. I messaged Kyaw Kyaw and others directly on Facebook, and we struck up a conversation. My friends and I ended up bringing a suitcase full of school supplies for the local children. We watched him perform at Human Rights Day, taking photos so that I could feature the concert on my travel blog. Later, we interviewed him while hanging out with his punk friends, which led to a decadent night out at Chinatown bars.

My friends and I were happy we were able to meet new friends who shared our love of alternative culture and fashion. We had a unique, fun experience with locals in Yangon, while also supporting a charity in person. With the Internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to reach out directly to individuals like we did, and make a difference even during a short trip.

 

Case study 2: Staying with a Serbian family

One of the simplest ways that travelers can support sustainable tourism is by choosing local, ethical accommodations. In the past, tourists booked chain hotels because they could count on the consistent quality. However, with the rise of crowd-sourced online reviews today, travelers minimize the risk of staying in subpar places. With a little web research, they can confidently put their dollars towards homestays, B&Bs, and independently run boutique hotels with excellent reputations.

When my travel TV team and I were planning our stay in Belgrade, I looked at international brands such as Best Western, Radisson and Hyatt. I knew these hotels would provide a satisfactory stay – but I probably wouldn’t remember the rooms or staff a few months later. In other words, there would be no “experience” or sustainable/local facets, which are important to my travel stories.

Instead, I looked at TripAdvisor and other boutique hotel reviews online. Selection Apartments stood out because it had 5-star reviews across the board, and won TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence every year since 2012.

We contacted them and received a personal reply and welcome from the family that runs these apartments, including the offer to pick us up from the train station for free. When we arrived, the father and wife team served us Serbian coffee and fresh-baked pastries, and then took us on a little walking tour of the neighbourhood to get us situated. They upkeep the rooms themselves, and were always available for friendly chats and to give advice. To this day, we still keep in touch on Facebook.

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

If we had booked a chain hotel, we would never have had a personalized, local experience like we did at Selection Apartments. My team and I feel great that we supported a kind Belgrade family, and consistently recommend them to travelers to help get the word out. This sustainable choice rewarded us with new friends and memories, while also helping out a local business.

 

Case study 3: Supporting Moroccan women on a tour

Likewise, in Morocco, my team and I wanted to dive deeper into the local culture, and film meaningful stories about individuals breaking boundaries. We were curious about the lives of Moroccan women, so we created a custom itinerary through Plan-It Fez, a tour company run by two expat women. We had a Moroccan lady as our guide and translator, and she helped us experience immersive activities that support local female-run businesses.

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

We learned how to make bread and couscous at a bakery collective, run by women in a village outside Fez. The next day, we took part in a family-run henna workshop, where three generations of Moroccan women showed us beauty treatments and drew designs on our hands. Finally, we stayed overnight in a Berber village home, cooking dinner with the ladies of the house.

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

Although my filmmakers and I only spent about a week in Morocco, our Plan-It Fez tour gave us powerful insight into the lives of independent, local women. We saw our dollars made a direct impact on the lives of these women, as we could observe how they were building lives for themselves through their work, which they opened up to tourists.

In any given destination, there are dozens of big-name tour groups, buses and cruises to choose from. However, with a little online research, sustainable-minded travelers can find a niche tour that focuses on a cause or aspect that they feel passionate about. These options can range from a small eco cruise for people who love diving, to music workshops run by emerging artists. I personally love shining a light on women and fringe groups, which made this tour a perfect fit for my interests, while creating sustainable benefits.

 

Conclusion

Today’s travelers are increasingly interested in “experiential, meaningful, local” journeys – and these values are in line with sustainability. However, large-scale voluntourism and eco-focused trips might not match the comfort levels of most leisure travelers. Instead, tourists can be encouraged to take small, mindful actions – such as booking homestays and ethical tours, or spending a day volunteering for a cause they believe in.

My case studies suggest that these “micro-sustainable” choices can fit one’s personal interests and be enjoyable, while also making a significant, positive impact on communities. Travelers are also more likely to take part in such “small” actions, as these require less time and physical investment. No matter how small, every choice that is mindful about a destination’s environment and residents will make a difference.

 

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

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by Maeve Nightingale, Mangroves for the Future Programme Manager, IUCN

 

Cox's maeve

Home to a golden sand beach, towering cliffs, amazing surf, rare conch shells and colorful pagodas, Cox’s Bazar should long ago have been on the map as a popular tourist destination. Yet, little is known about this fascinating fishing port located in the South Asian nation of Bangladesh.

Cox’s Bazar is best known for having the longest beach in the world – a 120 km of continuous sandy shore running the length of the coastline. The town is named after Lieutenant Cox, an officer of the British East India Company who sought shelter in the then British territory after the conquest of Arakan by the Burmese. A majority of the population, many of which are originally from Myanmar, are descendants of the Arakan refugees creating a continuum of ethnic diversity and cultural harmony that shapes Cox’s Bazar today. Products of the Rakhine people are a favorite amongst tourists. Their unique culture attracts visitors from home, and abroad.

Cox's fishermen-on-inani-beach-coxs-bazar

“Fishermen on Inani Beach, Cox’s Bazar”©IUCN Asia/Ann Moey

From Cox’s Bazar all the way down to Teknaf: a place of culture, wildlife and natural landscapes

Located north-west of Cox’s Bazar town, the Island of Sonadia has been identified by the Government of Bangladesh as an ‘Ecologically Critical Area’ or ECA to protect it from over exploitation (Environmental Protection Zone as a result of the 1995 Environmental Conservation Act). It is a barrier island, meaning it is protecting the mainland from erosion by lying parallel to it. Sonadia Island provides diverse habitat that supports three different vegetation types—sand dunes, salt marshes and mangroves. Along with its associated marine area, it provides habitat for several threatened species including marine turtles, shore birds and cetaceans. The Island is one of the last remaining habitats of the Spoon Billed Sand Piper, a very rare shore bird.

Nearby, St Martin’s Island – the only coral-bearing Island in Bangladesh – is a site of interest for establishing one of the first national Marine Protected Areas (MPA) through the support of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and its regional coastal ecosystem programme, Mangroves for the Future (MFF), opening up opportunities for conserving wildlife and promoting sustainable tourism activities. MPAs involve the protective management of natural areas so as to keep them in their natural state. MPAs can be conserved for a number of reasons including economic resources, biodiversity conservation, and species protection. They are created by delineating zones with permitted and non-permitted uses within that zone.

Other important local attractions include the Forests of Shilkali and Chunuti, which are managed and protected by local communities. Chunuti Wildlife Sanctuary is the country’s third oldest sanctuary and home to a herd of majestic Asian elephants, the rare Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Kalij Pheasant and Crab-eating Maongoose, all of which can be seen whenhiking in the forest. The Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary is another place of diverse wildlife, featuring a hill forest in the middle part of the Teknaf Peninsula.

Driving Cox’s Bazar tourism industry towards inclusiveness

Sustainable approach to tourism means that neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities should be impaired by the arrival of tourists (UNESCO). In fact the goal is for local communities to benefit from tourism, both economically and socially, without sacrificing their natural environment in the process.

Tourism can be a driver for social growth and economic development if it carefully considers local assets to build attractive and marketable tourism products while maximizing benefits sharing and reducing negative environmental impacts.

”Defining a Sustainable Tourism Strategy for Cox’s Bazar will require developing a common vision at the local, national and regional level, to pave the way for local to national economic development opportunities and work across industries including fisheries and aquaculture, agriculture, handicrafts, tourism facilities and service providers,” says Maeve Nightingale. The first step of this strategy will be a participatory consultative initiative where national, local government, tourism industries and related businesses as well as local communities work together to design the vision and way forward for a sustainable future for Cox’s Bazar, recognizing that conservation and tourism and community development opportunities go hand in hand as marine and coastal environments provide key natural assets, essential to the tourism industry and coastal communities. Therefore, coastal tourism development should be an inclusive process that values local communities and creates benefits-sharing systems.

Cox's “Women from Nuniarchi Conservation Village selling their hand-made products” © IUCN Asia/Petch Manopawitr

“Women from Nuniarchi Conservation Village selling their hand-made products” © IUCN Asia/Petch Manopawitr

To guide the tourism sector towards sustainability, IUCN has developed guidelines for the integration of biodiversity in hotels and resorts development; to integrate business skills into ecotourism operations; and to ensure sustainable tourism in Parks and Protected Areas. In parallel, MFF works to leverage opportunities for communities to develop small-scale, sustainable enterprises, which support local livelihood development. Some of these initiatives include facilitating the supply of local sustainable seafood to hotels and restaurants, souvenir product development for hotels, development of ecotourism services. In Thailand, MFF/IUCN influence coastal industries through interaction with supply chains and customer base e.g. several Marriott Hotels & Resorts have now local seafood strategies in place for their restaurants. A Thailand seafood guide will also be developed for awareness.

Cox's one-of-joars-eco-cottages-mff-funded-project

“Lunch with MFF grantee Joar at one of the eco-cottages in Shyamnagar”© IUCN Asia/Amin Raquibul

Emphasizing the importance of these types of collaborative approaches, MFF works closely with communities in Bangladesh to achieve a sustainable, community-based ecotourism industry. In Shyamnagar, a sub-district located close to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world, MFF works together with Joar an NGO that supports natural resources dependent communities by providing alternative sources of income from the operation of eco-cottages and related ecotourism activities.

Cox's "Joar's Eco-Cottages (MFF Funded Project)”©IUCN Asia/Amin Raquibul

“Joar’s Eco-Cottages (MFF Funded Project)”©IUCN Asia/Amin Raquibul

Raising awareness for public-private partnerships

In the long run the future of tourism as a driver of sustainable and inclusive development in Cox’s Bazar will necessitate a participatory approach, working together and active support from both private, public sector and the community.

Strategic guidelines like a participatory tourism development planning is necessary for Cox’s Bazar to ensure a holistic approach for sustainable tourism development that includes considerations for managing freshwater, wastewater, drainage, waste management, infrastructure and other essential services necessary for tourism. At the same time preserving, the much treasured cultural and natural heritages as the foundation not only for tourism but also for societal well being is essential. Recognized for its potential to become a top tourist destination, Cox’s Bazar has been selected to be the venue of this year’s PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum – 24th and 25th November 2016. Mohammad Shahad Mahabub Chowdhury, National Coordinator for MFF Bangladesh will be moderating the session “Rethinking Sustainable Coastal Tourism.” The session will focus on how the private sector is a critical stakeholder for the stewardship of coastal resources.

Cox's "Boat Renovation on Inani Beach Cox's Bazar”©IUCN Asia/ Ann Moey

“Boat Renovation on Inani Beach Cox’s Bazar”©IUCN Asia/ Ann Moey

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About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation, with almost 1,300 government and NGO Members and more than 15,000 volunteer experts in 185 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by almost 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

Learn more at: www.iucn.org

About MFF

Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. MFF focuses on the role that healthy, well-managed coastal ecosystems play in building the resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The initiative uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem, but MFF is inclusive of all types of coastal ecosystem, such as coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands. MFF is co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, and is funded by Danida, Norad, Sida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.

Learn more at: www.mangrovesforthefuture.org

 

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

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FINALIST – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Best in Community Engagement & Development

IMG_2626-e1440147722754Creating unforgettable learning experiences in the Cambodian provinces of Kratie and Stung Treng, CRDTours works closely with their partner NGO, CRDT (Cambodian Rural Development Team) to create sustainable changes through community-based tourism initiatives, such as rural development and environmental conservation.

Not only does CRDTours give tourists hands-on cultural experiences, such as whipping up local dishes with their host families, attending traditional religious blessings, and participating in on-going development projects identified by the local communities. But they also make sure the local communities don’t become overly dependent on tourism as a livelihood source by limiting the carrying capacity of visitors to Koh P’dao, an island nestled in the mighty Mekong river and home to a number of their tourist programs.

By expanding their community development tours’ projects to include chicken and pig raising and building toilets and rainwater collection systems, CRDTours is able to reach more beneficiaries and maximize long term benefits while also developing non-tourist centric methods of livelihood such as livestock raising, maintaining home gardens, and environmental education.

Mobilizing local communities key to CRDTours’ success. They are trusted by the local community, provide trainings and improve community awareness about issues such as environmental conservation. During village demonstrations, events, and livelihood trainings focused on deforestation and environmental awareness, 60% of beneficiaries were able to raise at least 3 environmental issues, such as illegal fishing and climate change present in their community and offer solutions.

CRDTours actively involves the local  community members, encouraging them to play a role in development and environmental conservation initiatives, which include:

  • Finding alternative livelihoods to slow/stop the depletion of natural resources
  • Raising awareness about the impact of unsustainable natural resources and gradually change the community’s behavior towards the environment
  • Promoting ecotourism as an incentive for community members to stop harming wildlife and take action to protect it

Ecotourism has been an incentive for communities to protect their rare, Irrawaddy dolphin neighbors and make them proud of their community. Over a quarter of the Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) annual development fund was given to the community fishery for river patrolling. By 2013 community beneficiaries stopped using gillnets (which dolphins are known to get caught in) close to the known dolphin pool and reduced their time spent fishing by 45%. Thanks to the complete removal of gillnets in the area, two baby dolphins were born in the Koh P’dao pool earlier this year.

CRDTours website

 

October 8 2015 – Designed to promote New York agriculture and add a bit more green space to the airport, the 24,000-square-foot T5 farm is growing produce, herbs and the same blue potatoes used to make the Terra Blues potato chips JetBlue offers year-round as complimentary snacks to passengers during flights. Harriet Baskas Read more.

 

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by Jude Kasturi Arachchi, Director, Jetwing Hotels

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

Jude Kasturi Arachchi, Director, Jetwing Hotels

Known as Sri Lanka’s premier hospitality brand, the Jetwing story spans over four decades. A family owned company from inception, the brand currently owns and operates 21 properties (hotels and villas) within the country, with plans for five more in the next two to three years. Focusing on creating spaces for guests to live, relax and enjoy the best Sri Lanka has to offer, Jetwing has placed a great deal of prominence on sustainable practice and community development through the Jetwing Eternal Earth Programme (JEEP).

JEEP is a result of genuine caring, and ensuring that tourism existing not in isolation but beneficial to all stakeholders involved – especially communities, and the reduction in usage of natural resources. With the latest in sustainable technology implemented at Jetwing properties, the company seeks to reduce burdens on operating environments, as the island of Sri Lanka is a gift that is meant to be treasured.

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BookGreenerConnect, in partnership with GSTC and PATA, is proud to announce the launch of a series of free webinars on practical solutions to green your operations. The first webinar, “Water Efficiency Opportunities for Hotels” was held on Monday, May 18, 2015.

With the aim of connecting sustainable tourism players from all around the world, BookGreener created the platform BookGreenerConnect to share experts’ knowledge and experience in terms of best sustainable practices.

As you will discover, water consumption is not only costly but also a topic which will become more and more heated in the coming years. The tourism industry is coming under fire for its liberal use of water and will continue to be as words like hydric stress and drought will be known by many more.

Water efficiency is not only a winning gamble for the future, it will become a necessity.

To discuss this topic, we are pleased to let you hear some experts from the resort industry. Each of them has taken steps to tackle water consumption, and has come up with innovative ideas to efficiently save water and as you will see, money as well.

Speakers for this webinar included:
Anthony Wong, Owner of the greenest hotel in Malaysia – Frangipani Langkawi
Nicolas Dubrocard, Water Management Specialist, working with hotels all across Asia
Benjamin Lephilibert, Director at LightBlue Environmental Consulting
Alexandre Tsuk, Founder of BookGreener

To view the webinar, click here.

To view or download slides from the webinar, click here.


About BookGreener: 
For travelers looking for eco-experiences, BookGreener gives them access to the world’s green hotels. Moreover for every booking made through the website, a tree will be planted. BookGreener aims at promoting hotels that are part of the solution and not part of the problem, hotels caring about local communities and culture, wildlife and environment conservation as well as preserving a unique experience for travelers.

For hotel owners, list your hotel for free on BookGreener:
http://www.bookgreener.com/propertyEdit.php

About www.BookGreener.com/Connect:
BookGreenerConnect is a peer-to-peer skill sharing platform for professionals involved in promoting sustainability within the tourism industry: hotel owners, sustainability officers, labels, consultants…The tool allows any member to post a best practice, comment and add tips.

 

 

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