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email interview with Małgorzata Then, CEO, Biotrem

Q: Hi Małgorzata, nice to meet you. So tell us, what is Biotrem? What kinds of products do you offer?

A: Biotrem is a Polish technology company developing an innovative production process of bio-based tableware and packaging. The patented technology allows us to manufacture a biodegradable disposable tableware from sustainable organic raw materials, such as wheat bran, corn bran, cassava by-products, seaweed or even algae.

Biotrem’s main product line is fully biodegradable disposable tableware produced from the compressed wheat bran. Our offer also includes cutlery made from a mix of PLA bioplastic and wheat bran.

Q: How did this idea come about?

A: Our unique production process was invented almost two decades ago by Mr. Jerzy Wysocki, whose family’s milling traditions date back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Mr. Wysocki was researching a better application for wheat bran, a by-product in the grain milling process, other than animal feed or compost. His research resulted in the production process fuelling today’s Biotrem production plant.


Q: Does food taste different when it’s on Biotrem tableware?

A: Our tableware, made out of compressed natural wheat bran, is perfect for serving hot and cold dishes. In case of longer contact with liquid meals – especially with hot soups – the smell or taste of bran may slightly penetrate the meal, but it’s not an unpleasant feeling. It reminds me of freshly baked bread.

Q: How is Biotrem more environmentally friendly than the alternative? How is Biotrem a solution to our waste problem?

A: Disposable products, made from wheat bran, are an excellent alternative to most of disposable tableware, i.e. made from plastic or paper, the production of which has a heavy and negative impact on the environment.

From 1 ton of pure, edible wheat bran – which is a by-product in the grain milling process – we can produce around 10,000 plates or bowls. What’s more important, our products are fully biodegradable and compostable within just 30 days.

Q: What about costs? Why should I buy Biotrem vs. other alternatives?

A: Actually, price-wise our products are on the same level as most of other bio-based disposable products. We should be aware that many of so-called eco-products is fact aren’t so much environmentally friendly. In many cases the organic material they are made out of requires processing involving large amounts of water, chemicals and energy.

The beauty of our innovative production process lies in the fact that it enables the use of unprocessed organic material, most often by-products in the agricultural or food industry.


Q: How can we tell the difference between your products and those that aren’t processed in an environmentally friendly way?

Well, being a conscious consumer requires some ­– at least – basic knowledge about how things are made and what are they made of. It really helps you make good and responsible choices.

Let’s take a paper cup as an example. You could say that since it’s made out of paper – an organic material that is biodegradable – it probably is an environmentally friendly product. or at least less harmful that a plastic cup. But then you must realize that paper is made out of trees; that the paper industry utilizes huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy; that a paper cup or plate can’t be made out of recycled paper – it always must be a fresh, clean paper; that a cup or a plate used to serve food can’t be recycled; and finally, that a paper cup or plate is able to withstand liquids because its surface is coated with a thin plastic or wax film, which makes it hardly recyclable or biodegradable.

As a responsible company, we commissioned an independent institute to conduct the Life-Cycle Assessment study for our products, which, among other things, proved that one (1) kilogram of wheat bran product generates in total – considering the whole wheat cultivation process, transportation, processing and utilisation – around 1.3 kg of CO2, meanwhile the functionally comparable mass of widely used polystyrene disposable plates or cups generates in total around 8.5 kg of CO2.

A comparative study of the impact on the environment, human life and natural resources is unequivocally in favour of the wheat bran product – for most categories the result is about 60% lower than for plastic-based products. That is a huge difference.

Q: What markets is Biotrem in currently? How do you aim to expand?

A: So far Biotrem has managed to build an effective distribution network across the Europe. Currently, we are expanding our sales and distribution on other continents – North and South Americas, Asia, Australia, Africa. Our business development is also supported by intense marketing and advertising campaigns.


Q: Who are your customers and what has been the reception from them so far? How are your products relevant to the tourism and hospitality industry?

A: So far, our largest clients are the caterers, organisers of large events, music festivals, live shows and wholesalers. The tourism and hospitality industry is also very interested in our products. We are receiving a lot of inquiries from holiday resorts, especially those located on tropical islands, where waste management is expensive and has a negative impact on the natural environment.

With the development of sales channels, supported by intense marketing campaigns, we hope to reach also end customers. We are already observing their huge interest in our products.

There’s no reason to delay the inevitable. No more I-will-do-it-next-week’s, no more I-know-I-should-do-it’s - it’s about time to end the toxic relationship so many of us are still in. For Valentine’s Day, UN Environment is urging everyone to ‘break up’ with single-use plastic. more » Read more
Getting rid of habits and changing behaviour to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle on a personal level can be challenging. Let’s say you have noticed that you throw out a lot of food because it has gone bad before you’ve had the chance to eat it and you want to reduce the amount of food wasted in the future. more » Read more

Guest blogger Jackie Edwards gives tips for business travelers and FIT on how to make a responsible accommodation choice.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Traveling is an exciting pastime, but jetting across the globe can take its toll on the environment. Eco-conscious travelers can work to reduce their carbon footprint by looking for a sustainable hotel when booking their trip. Here are some tips on how to find eco-friendly accommodations on your next trip.

Book Near the City Center

Booking a hotel that’s within walking distance of local attractions can help tourists cut back on carbon emissions. A centrally located hotel eliminates the need to rent a car since attractions that are not nearby can often be easily reached by public transit. Some hotels offer bicycles for rent so that guests have an eco-friendly way to explore the city.

Not only is cycling and walking beneficial for the environment, but it can also help tourists to save on their trip. Renting a car can be significantly more expensive than taking public transit, and traveling by foot costs nothing at all.

Find Out About Water and Energy Usage

Guests can check out a hotel’s website or call ahead of time to see if the establishment operates using sustainable practices. Some eco-friendly hotels have made the switch to solar, wind, or geothermal power in an effort to go green, while others have started using LEDs and low energy bulbs to improve energy efficiency.

Water consumption is also a consideration when booking a green hotel. Guests should look for hotels that install fixtures such as low-flow toilets and showerheads. Some places even go so far as to collect rainwater. Hotels that boast pools and decorative fountains may not be a green choice, as they can drain water from the local environment.

Pick a Hotel that Gives Back

Eco-conscious tourists hoping for a relaxing break that is guilt-free, can find hotels in many areas that promote programs that give back to the local community, such as donation efforts, low-cost healthcare services, and nutritional assistance. Guests can also look for hotels that hire from within the local community to help support neighborhood families.

A hotel’s menu can also have an impact on the surrounding community. Locally sourced menus not only support local farmers but also reduces emissions from packaging and transportation. Guests get to enjoy fresh, home-cooked meals while knowing that they’re helping to make a difference.

Before booking your next vacation, take some time to research your hotel. Conscientious tourists can find eco-friendly hotels that help to preserve the environment and support their local community.

There are several online booking engines that can help you find a sustainable option on your travels:


See more of Jackie’s writing: 

A little closer to home: sustainable everyday life choices

A guide to sustainable travel for seniors

Beginning at home – the next generation of sustainable travelers


Masaru Takayama: A Stronger Asian Ecotourism Network for 2018

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Masaru Takayama, Chair, AEN

Masaru Takayama, Chair and Founder of the Asian Ecotourism Network, speaks to Gaia Discovery’s Mallika Naguran of his plans for 2018 and in shaping a stronger association that promotes responsible tourism in Asia. 

The Asian Ecotourism Network was formed in June 2015 out of exceptional circumstances. At that time, the original board members of The International Ecotourism Society or TIES had resigned from it and formed the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) instead. Four GEN board members residing in Asia including Masaru Takayama went on to form the regional Asian Ecotourism Network, or AEN.

Read more.

By Mallika Naguran, Publisher and Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery and Gaia Guide


Come on baby, do the local-motion

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

Whether as a tourist or a tour company, your dollar can go along way. Economic pressure is real, and supporting local businesses has numerous benefits. Supporting local prevents leakage, promotes community, and will give you a higher quality product.


Here are some ways you can support local and “tread lightly” on the road:

  1. Purchase tours from local businesses. They will have the most in-depth insights about local tours, insider information about events and community happenings, and of course the best stories to share!


  1. Shop local. Buying a local souvenir is something unique you can bring home as a reminder of your trip, so be sure to check the country of origin of your souvenir. Why go to Nepal to purchase something that was made in mass and shipped from China?


If visiting a local community based tourism enterprise, supporting their handcrafts is not only supporting their local economy, it is also promoting the local culture! Tour operators – consider adding a community tourism visit to your itinerary for a truly unique experience!


Feel free to contact us for more info.


  1. Eat local, or include local restaurants. Local eateries will feature fresh flavours that are special to a place. When in Rome, eat lots of pecorino Romano cheese!


  1. Leave an impact. If you would like to “do good” during your travels and are considering volunteering or making a donation, first check with a local NGO where your dollar will make the most impact.


If you are volunteering or arranging a volunteer gig, please do your research! Here are a couple of links to get you started:



Gardeners of Eden

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Photo credit: Kristin Davis/Village Beat

The images are stark and grisly at the start of the short but bluntly powerful documentary “Gardeners of Eden”: Television news footage presents the bloody carcasses of elephants, shorn of their tusks, that are sold in the illegal ivory trade. And soon we are taken to Tsavo National Park in Kenya, the front line of the elephant slaughter in Africa, which is losing its population of these majestic mammals at an alarming rate. The film follows the efforts of Daphne Sheldrick, 80, of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which raises orphaned elephant calves and reintroduces them into the wild. And it accompanies members of the trust and armed Kenya Wildlife Service officers as they search for poachers and treat elephants wounded by wires planted to cripple herds.

Read the full New York Times movie review by Andy Webster, ‘Gardeners of Eden’ Tracks the Killing of Elephants for Ivory here.

Official Trailer: Gardeners of Eden from Village Beat on Vimeo.


Interview with Javad Hatami, CMO & Co-founder, Optishower

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email interview with Javad Hatami, CMO & Co-founder, Optishower

1.    In 2-3 sentences, what is your product, what does it do? What is your elevator pitch?

Optishower integrated solution helps hotels achieve operational excellence, decrease water and electricity consumption, and ensure the highest levels of guest satisfaction. We use IoT-based smart sensors to monitor water and electricity in buildings; engage and motivate guest to reduce the utility consumption by gamification techniques.

2.    Where did your inspiration for this idea come from? 

It was started from a friendly discussion between two co-founders.  Me and Mohamamdhossein, very close friend of mine and the co-founder of Optishower, were both avid travelers. We’ve been to many countries and usually we stayed in hotels during our travels. The idea came from the observation about high levels of water that was wasted in bathrooms and once someone enters a hotel they usually don’t care about the consumption. We found that 1) guests don’t know about their consumption and 2) they don’t know how they can help environment and avoid unnecessary consumption, 3) and most importantly, they don’t have any incentive to do so.  We found there is not any tailored solution for hospitality sector to tackle these challenges. It was the begging of our journey to create Optishower.


3.    Why should hotels be interested? 

Our solution could benefits hotels in 3 different ways:

1)      Optishower technology supports hotels to benchmark the current status of their buildings in terms of consumption and find out any bottlenecks to implement more efficient and sustainable technologies. Optishower could also help hotels to achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility goals in terms of Sustainable Responsible Operations.

2)      Finding leakages in big buildings is hard and time consuming. Our technology can detect any leakage in water pipes and abnormalities in electrical system of building, thus it saves money and time for hoteliers to avoid any damages and losses.

3)       Optishower platform connects guests to their consumption. We use gamification techniques to engage guests with their water and electricity consumption in-room. Therefore, this technology could be used as a new feature to transform in-room guest experience. Moreover, reduction in utility consumption leads to increase in profit margins of hotels.


4.    What are some of the initial results you are seeing?

Once our technology is implemented, it can provide lots of data and insights about status of consumption in hotels. Our technology makes utility consumption visible and easily understandable. The recent result from our pilot test in Marriott Amsterdam demonstrated that if guests know about their consumption, they were more conscious and could make more smart choice of water and electricity usage in rooms. We found behavior change is a key component to leverage sustainability status in hotels.


5.    What is your vision for this technology/app? What does success look like to you?

Our aim is consumption behavior change through user engagement. We aim to provide data and insight to hotel guests mixed with gamification techniques, so they can make better and smarter consumption decisions.  On the other hand, we aim to provide a platform that makes life easier and more convenient for hoteliers. We are envisioning a system that is an integral part of each hotel and provides visibility on all corners of water and electricity consumption in the hotel. Success for us means developing a solution that makes the lives of hotel guests easier and more comfortable, and provides new and seamless experiences that also positively contributes to environment.


6.    What is the role of tech in sustainability for the hospitality industry? 

Technology plays an important role in achieving sustainability goals in hospitality. New technologies that help hotels’ business become resource efficient can both create a competitive cost advantage and further reinforce brand focus on sustainability at the same time. This investment can be profitable and resonate the brand in the heart of customers. For example, new technologies that drives environmentally friendly atmosphere can have positive impact on guest experience. At the end of day, what the guest feels and thinks about the hotel experience leaves an impression with the guest that has a direct impact on occupancy and ADR.


7.    What have been your biggest challenges?

As a tech start up that wanted to disrupt travel and hospitality sector, our main challenge was to understand the major pain in the hospitality sector and to craft an innovative and wining solution for that. We looked to the hospitality sector and found that sustainability is still a luxury word; everyone talks about it, but nobody wants to implement it. We looked to the current solutions that exist and found that most, if not all, of them are technology-based and lack active end-user engagement. It took some time for us to find a way to connect tech with social and economic behavior strategies to craft a specific solution that deals with sustainability challenges in the hospitality sector.


8.    What is your prediction for the future of hotels, particularly in terms of sustainability and guest engagement? 

There is a visible trend in the travel and hospitality market that guests prefer sustainable tourism as a requirement in their travel. Personalization also would be a key component of future hotel service. The hotel of the future offers new and diverse experiences that can evolve with the guest. If you want to have a hotel that is sustainable and provides personalized service, you need clear engagement with your guest regarding your sustainability activities. I believe tech and behavior science are helping at that stage to provide innovative solutions that transform the guest experience. Hotels of the future would integrate sustainability as their core elements from hotel design to operation, therefore technology will bring innovative environmentally-friendly solutions to provide seamless experiences for guests in the future.


9.    In your opinion, what should the sustainable guest experience look like? 

I believe the trend in the travel industry where sustainability is an important concern is increasing. There are statistics and surveys demonstrating that more and more guests are booking green and eco-friendly hotels.  Sustainable design offers such travelers a place where they can feel comfortable spending their time and money. These environmentally conscious travelers likely expect sustainability efforts in the design of rooms, reducing waste, saving water and promoting green activities in operation, energy-efficient appliances, recycling programs and gluten-free meals, at the very least. Recent advances in technology made it possible to re-design hotels according to green practices. Hospitality is always about experience and connecting people. Environment influences behavior and mindset, and guests are sensitive to small things in their surrounding that change their mood. For example, rooms with new designs that enjoy lots of natural sunlight is more likely to be perceived as energizing and inspiring. To offer a sustainable guest experience, hoteliers should think about innovative ideas that combines suitability with new experiences. As an example, lamps that are energy efficient yet offers a relaxing environment for guests would create a memorable and authentic experience for guests during their stay in a hotel.

10. Anything else you’d like the reader to know about yourself or Optishower? 

Optishower is a Portuguese brand offering an innovative platform for the hospitality sector with a very disrupting idea that incorporates elements from tech to social behavior. As a young tech start up in the travel industry, we believe proactive engagement of guests is a key to achieve sustainability in the hospitality sector. Recently, our disruptive idea has grabbed the attention of Marriott hotels and we have been selected from around 150 applicants from 24 countries to pilot our technology, as part of Marriott test bed acceleration program, in Marriott Amsterdam.




 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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Do you have an appetite for a BUFFET?

BUFFET, the Building an Understanding For Food Excess in Tourism Campaign, is a PATA-led industry initiative to curb food waste in the tourism and hospitality industry in our region.



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The UN has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017) in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In recognition, PATA has developed the BUFFET Campaign to raise awareness of and support the shift towards more sustainable business practices in the tourism and hospitality sector, as it relates to food waste.

With increasing concern of the world for climate change, food waste has come increasingly under attention in recent years and for good reason:

Right now 842 million people do not have enough to eat and with an estimated world population of 9.8 billion people by 2050, resources will be limited and more people will be hungry.

When food gets thrown away and rots it releases methane, which is (21 times) more devastating to the environment than carbon dioxide, but that is not all: every time food is wasted, all the money, packaging, manpower, and water are wasted too, all along the supply chain.

This problem is especially visible in the hospitality industry as, for example, 611 million meals are served per year to tourists in restaurants and hotels in the UK (WRAP). Also according to WRAP, in the UK, food waste in hotels can cost up to £0.52 (US$0.68) per meal, and that 75% of the wasted food can be repurposed. Also, the average hotel guest produces 1kg of waste per night. The impact in this sector is immense, but that also means that we can make a big positive change in this industry. Reducing food waste will reduce the cost for operators in the industry while benefiting the environment at the same time. (Read more about the business case for reducing food loss and waste).

The BUFFET Initiative addresses two of the five key areas that IY2017 has identified to promote tourism’s role:

  • Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction – Encouraging employment in the sustainable agriculture sector; addressing poverty by providing quality excess food to those in need
  • Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change – Reducing food waste by encouraging better menu planning and other tactics; protecting the environment by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill

IY2017 supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its endeavor to address poverty, protect the planet, promote peace and prosperity by 2030.

[logo] Goal 2: Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

[logo] Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

[logo] Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption & production patterns

[logo] Goal 13: Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

[logo] Goal 14: Life Below Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

[logo] Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


The BUFFET Campaign is about bringing together a coalition of industry partners and PATA members to create and implement a campaign that challenges our industry, particularly the hospitality sector, to divert food waste to landfill.

It is about showing our industry the impact food waste reduction can make in business costs, climate change, and providing tools to reduce food excess and reduce wasted resources.


This campaign will run now through mid-2018.

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The Challenge



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The Solution



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Thesis Award


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