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Sharing has become a main driver for our economy. Using underutilised assets allows us to improve efficiency, sustainability and community. Through user-generated web content, and with the growing popularity of renting goods rather than buying them, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, connected, and conscious.

Here are some ways to become a part of this movement:

  • Check out these 14 pioneers of the “share economy” to learn more about what’s out there already.
  • Break it down to a more personal level and incorporate sharing in your everyday life to improve your sustainability efforts on a smaller scale yet with a bigger and long lasting impact.

Do you want to go on a journey to become more sustainable or even ultimately adapt a zero waste lifestyle, but don’t know where to start? Sharing knowledge and tips within a community of like-minded people is the key to success. Consider these three steps to get rolling:

  1. Get to know your neighbourhood: Explore the area you live in to see which services and goods are available locally. Visit nearby markets and keep your eyes open for small businesses that offer local and organic products but may not necessarily have their own brick and mortar store.
  2. Attend events to learn and connect: Browse for festivals, workshops or other sustainability-related events in your neighbourhood or city. Make sure to green your commute when you go. This is an opportunity to connect with local businesses offering organic or sustainable sourced goods and services. Building relationships is essential in the process of creating a stronger community, as knowledge and updates can be shared and accessed more easily in the future. Contribute to the conversation by sharing what you have previously discovered and learned about your neighbourhood.
  3. Grow your community: Raise awareness about causes that matter to you and invite friends and family to join you in an initiative, challenge or at the next event. Start conversations that encourage others to rethink their own behaviour and actions, and support them to change and improve their lifestyles in a sustainable matter.

Walking the talk is not always easy and you may face difficulties, but remember that together you can tackle every challenge more easily!

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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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The clan jetties have been overwhelmed by tourists since receiving Unesco world heritage status. Photograph: gracethang/Getty Images

 

The gambling-ridden clan jetties of Malaysia’s George Town were saved from ruin by the award of Unesco world heritage status, but their new fame left locals overwhelmed by a tide of invasive tourism. Can we ever get the balance right?

Chew Jetty in Malaysia’s George Town attracts tourists by the boatload. Historic homes are now commercial stalls branded with neon signs; one-time fishermen peddle T-shirts, magnets and postcards. Tour buses deposit vacationers from early in the morning until well after sunset.

 

The daily intrusion has clearly taken a toll: windows are boarded, “no photo” signs are pervasive, and tenants quickly vanish at the sight of a foreign face.

 

“I would like to remind people that we are not monkeys, and this is not a zoo,” says Lee Kah Lei, who runs a souvenir stall outside her home on the Chew Jetty.

 

Read the full article about the struggle to strike the balance between the economic benefits of catering to visitors and preserving the culture that drew the recognition.

 

By Laignee Barron for The Guardian.

 

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Voluntourism. It sounds like a beautiful way to combine service and travel. Indeed, many volunteers are flocking to countries, usually for short periods, to Asia and Africa to help children, to save endangered animals or to build houses and schools.

 

However, this form of tourism arguably does more harm than good. It is suggested that voluntourism perpetuates stereotyping, creates dependence on aid and aggravates symptoms of neo-colonialism.  

 

When conducted correctly, however, your community, NGO, or business may benefit from voluntourism. Your organisation needs to stand out from the industry that makes profits from the poverty of local communities in order to have a promising future.

 

Here are some suggestions on how to make the best of your voluntourism initiative:

 

  1. Find your match

Balance the motives of the potential volunteer with those of your company. It is not beneficial to employ volunteers who just want to pad their CVs. Give preference to those who are willing to contribute more time, remembering that it takes some time for a person to settle into a role and on that precious resources are often spent training or wasted in high turnover situations.

 

Do not work with young people who are eager to save a whole community but rather those who are willing to learn from a different culture and who are aware that they are not coming as a type of ‘superhero’.

 

  1. Preparation is key

One of the most important success factors is to match the expectations of the volunteers with your standards. To guarantee a successful tenure, consider hosting a preparation meeting. It is not only important to brief the volunteers about risks and expectations but also about the culture and history of the destination. This will help them to understand the community prior to arrival. Follow up on this meeting with regular discussions during their stay.

 

  1. Community involvement

Remember that the community is also a key stakeholder in voluntourism. To create a lasting and positive impact, match the communities’ expectations with that of your organisation and volunteers. Gather ideas on how a volunteer may engage with the community and where a helping hand is needed. Discuss how voluntourism projects may benefit the community in the longer term. It is also helpful to communicate motives and cultural differences of the volunteers.

 

 

Voluntourism is a controversial subject. It is thus imperative to make special considerations for your programming to create a win-win situation for all parties involved: your volunteers, community and organisation. If undertaken correctly, this form of tourism can be very rewarding and make a contribution to world peace and mutual understanding.

 

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Credit: World Economic Forum.

Many urban centers, like Shanghai and Shenzhen, have gone from modest fishing villages to booming megacities.

 

China is rapidly urbanizing. More than half of China’s population now lives in cities, and over 100 Chinese cities have over 1 million people each.

Many urban centers, like Shanghai and Shenzhen, have gone from modest fishing villages to booming megacities. Others have become mega-ghost cities — high-tech (often luxury) urban centers that fail to attract many residents.

Here’s a look at some of China’s largest real estate developments that will change its cities even more.

 

By Leanne Garfield from World Economic Forum

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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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Credit: Shutterstock

This year is the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Taleb Rifai declared it gave:

… a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.

Sustainable tourism comes from the concept of sustainable development, as set out in the 1987 Brundtland report. Sustainable development is:

… development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

British environmental activist George Monbiot argued that, over the years, sustainable development has morphed into sustained growth. The essence of his argument is that little resolve exists to go beyond rhetoric. This is because environmental crises require we limit the demands we place on it, but our economies require endless growth.

At the moment, economic growth trumps environmental limits, so sustainability remains elusive.

 

Read the full article here. Written by Freya Higgins-Desbiolles for The Conversation. 

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

Sunday May 14th is Mother’s Day in many parts of the world. It’s our chance to celebrate the special mothers in our lives. Mothers form a large part of the global workforce. Did you know, for example, that tourism employs twice as many women than other business sectors?

 

Mother Nature must also be celebrated on this special day and here are ideas about how to give responsibly:

 

  1. Plants instead of flowers:

One estimate suggests that a massive US$ 2.6 billion is spent on flowers for Mother’s Day. However, potted plants are an eco-friendly alternative to flowers. Buy locally if possible to support local community commerce. Check this plant-delivery- service to get some inspiration.

 

  1. Get inspired – make a gift by yourself:

A home-made present is often the most thoughtful and sentimental. Start painting, knitting, and scrapbooking. Even making a coupon book out of recycled paper can make every Mom happy. Crafting gifts can be enjoyed by everyone, can be especially fun in a group, and will bring out the artist in you. Here are some craft ideas and inspiration to get you started!

 

  1. Choose the right packaging:

Wrapping gifts usually means an extensive use of unnecessary paper. Opt for used newspapers or fabric. Think about making a gift box that can be decorated with paintings or personal messages. The box can easily be reused for storage. Read more about alternatives to gift paper.

 

When celebrating Mother’s Day, remember that it’s the thought that counts. Putting real effort into choosing an appropriate may take some time – but it can make all mothers feel happy and appreciated whilst also making an important contribution to the protection of our environment.

 

Read more on eco-friendly gifts here.

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Since this year’s Earth Day falls on a weekend, PATA decided to celebrate a little early. For this year’s Earth Day, our Green Team invited Mr Poonyos Kumpolkunjana, founder of Paper Ranger a local Bangkok non-profit, to give our team a workshop, titled, “Everyone can be a hero.”

 

On Tuesday, 18 April, Mr. Kumpolkunjana came to the PATA Engagement Hub and spoke to our team about how easy it is to make something useful out of paper waste, then showed us how to make notebooks using our office’s used paper! Our team had a lot of fun crafting notebooks out of paper waste.

 

Mr. Kumpolkunjana from Paper Ranger showing how its done

 

Everyone joined in, including Dr. Mario Hardy, the CEO of PATA

 

Proud participants presenting their work

 

His foundation arranges workshops with various groups, and donates the handcrafted notebooks that result from these workshops to schools throughout Thailand. Learn more about Paper Ranger here, and to book your own workshop, contact paperranger@live.com.

 

Recycling is a crucial concept in sustainable management, especially in an office environment. For more information check our green tips of this week here.

 

 

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COURTESY OF PIXABAY

 

Ever wondered what happens to the half-used bars of soap you leave behind after overnight stays in hotels?

In some cases, the soap gets recycled, thanks to a nonprofit named Clean the World.

The organization, which is based in Orlando, Florida, works with hotel partners to collect used soaps and recycle them for distribution to those in need. Since the organization was founded in 2009, it has distributed more than 40 million bars of soap to over 115 countries. And those numbers continue to grow.

Founder Shawn Seipler, who spent years in the technology industry, says the group’s mission is twofold: To recycle soap and hygiene products and to distribute these products to prevent hygiene-related deaths, reduce the morbidity rate for hygiene-related illnesses, and encourage childhood development programs.

 

Read more about the idea on recycling hotel soap here.

 

By MATT VILLANO From AFAR

 

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