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Sustainability Blog

Welcome to our blog, which features a new topic every month, with different experts sharing their opinions and knowledge in these original articles.

*Please note that the views presented in these articles are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the Pacific Asia Travel Association

Abuse ends where knowledge begins – Interview with Dr. Andrew McLean, Founder of H-ELP Foundation

#PataSustain interviewed Dr. Andrew McLean, co-founder of the Human Elephant Learning Programs (H-ELP) foundation, an Australian organisation aiming to improve the welfare of working elephants in Asia. Since its foundation in 2010, H-ELP has grown significantly as Andrew’s systematic approach to elephant training is recognised as a viable and safe alternative to traditional submission-based methods. The following interview has been edited more »

White Men in Suits at ITB panels – part 2. Time to tackle the lack of diversity at tourism events

by Marta Mills (, sustainable tourism specialist and sustainability adviser for the Transcaucasian Trail       Exactly a year ago after ITB Berlin 2017, I wrote White Men in Suits and Sustainable Tourism for PATA’s Sustainability Blog, referring to the nationality, race and gender imbalance of speakers at ITB, but also at other conferences and events in the tourism industry. more »

Interview with Małgorzata Then, CEO, Biotrem

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 more »

Interview with Mallika Naguran, Publisher and Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery and Gaia Guide

email interview with Mallika Naguran, Publisher and Managing Editor, Gaia Discovery and Gaia Guide Hi Mallika! The tables have turned! You do a lot of interviewing, now it’s time for someone to interview you! To start things off, tell us a little bit about your road to Gaia Discovery. It sure has! Thank you for this opportunity to tell my story. I more »

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

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 more »

Bangkok’s Fight Against Plastic Waste

by Juliane Little, Account Executive, Precious Plastics Bangkok           Did you know that plastic doesn’t actually decompose? Over time it’ll start to break down into smaller pieces called microplastics; however, it’ll never fully be removed from our planet. So how do we expect to tackle this ever-growing issue about plastic waste? While there is no short more »

How to grow your business and give back to the marine environment using the Green Fins Handbook

by JJ Harvey, Operations Manager, Reef-World Foundation           The modern traveller is not what they used to be. The game has changed and competition amongst businesses is as high as it has ever been. In a similar situation to people applying for work they need to have a CV that stands above the rest, something that has more »

Community Based Tourism in Pha Mon and Mae Klang Luang in Thailand

 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 more »

Travel with Social Good in Nepal’s Community Homestays

by Sudan Budathoki, Senior Office -Online Branding & Communication, Royal Mountain Travel, on behalf of           While luxurious hotels with all the mod-cons can be a lavish way to travel, with travelers interested in getting to know local people and exploring different cultures, some may find this a limiting way of experiencing a country. If you’ve seen the more »

Share the world to ensure a sustainable future

Some businesses may feel threatened by the sharing (collaborative) economy but it is time for our society to change its view on the importance of owning ‘things’. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12) focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. With this in mind, we need to consider sharing a little more and owning a little less to help more »

A Guide to Sustainable Travel for Seniors

by Jackie Edwards, editor, researcher and writer  Some seniors think that sustainable travel is not a suitable option for them, because it requires them to make extra efforts in most travel situations. However, it’s important to understand that it does not take much to be environmentally conscious during travel. Here are some tips that can help senior travelers minimize their impact more »

Beginning at home – the next generation of sustainable travelers

by Jackie Edwards, editor, researcher and writer  Sustainable Tourism: Ways Your Trip Can Have a Positive Impact When we go on holiday to a new place, it is increasingly important to us to learn as much as we can about the local atmosphere and culture. Often, the best part of the trip is when we are able to interact with the more »

When you talk about sustainable tourism, focus on it makes your guests’ experiences better

by Jeremy Smith, Editor & Co-Founder, Travindy   The easiest way to understand why most people struggle to communicate sustainable tourism well, and to understand how to get it right, is to stop thinking about sustainable tourism. Instead, think about food. When you buy any food that comes in packaging, that packaging is covered with information. On the front, there’s more »

“White Men in Suits” and Sustainable Tourism – Challenges for the ITB and Suggested Solutions

by Marta Mills (@oneplanetblog), Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Director, Transcaucasian Trail Association According to UNWTO, tourism’s role in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is to promote inclusiveness: inclusive sustainable economic growth, social inclusiveness, diversity, mutual understanding. The word “inclusive” appears in five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet one thing that was clearly missing from the ITB’s “Sustainable Tourism more »

The Bathroom Paradox

by Nicolas Dubrocard, Former Wild Asia Project Director, auditor for Travelife and Green Globe, and Director of Audit Diagnostic Solutions Tourism   I started my path on sustainable tourism exactly ten years ago in Morocco where I was supporting small accommodations and hotels to obtain the Green Key international eco label and to save water through Travel Foundation’s programme called Every more »

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 @   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 more »

Rethinking Inclusive Sustainable Coastal Tourism in Cox’s Bazar

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

Ten Years of Transformational Tourism Across Asia

Celebrating a decade of best practice in responsible travel Ten years ago Wild Asia, a social enterprise in Malaysia, identified a need to work with industries, rather than against them, to improve social and environmental impacts of the private sector. One of those industries was tourism, and as a way to inspire and educate businesses from around the region, they more »

The Power of the Marine Tourism Industry in Fighting Climate Change

ฺby JJ Harvey, International Coordinator, Green Fins


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It is not often that people associate the SCUBA diving industry or snorkelers with being a potential leader when it comes to fighting climate change or other marine conservation aspects in today’s climate. However, due to initiatives such as Green Fins, more and more diving and snorkelling businesses are becoming the new weapon in the fight to ensure the sustainability of one of the world’s fastest and increasingly popular activities in what is now the world’s fastest growing industry – tourism.

Green Fins is paving the way to unite politics and marine conservation efforts to ensure the sustainability of popular diving destinations around the world. Established through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and The Reef-World Foundation, Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centres, strengthening regulations, and environmental education for dive staff, divers and governments. Over 400 dive and snorkel operators across six countries have signed up for free membership, and are using Green Fins as a platform to set examples of sustainable business operations. Participating members are awarded a unique certificate based on annual assessments that is co-signed by the national government, the United Nations, and The Reef-World Foundation.

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The Strategic Imperative of Recognised Leadership in the Travel and Tourism Industry

by Oliver Martin, Partner, Twenty31 Consulting (24 August 2016)Recognised Leadership: OliverMartin

The need for leadership in the travel and tourism industry has never been more critical. As a society and industry, we are grappling with large scale global and regional challenges – climate change, over-crowding at tourism sites and the resulting strain on infrastructure and social and economic inequality in many destinations – that require a new type of leadership from truly progressive entities.

Most governments appear unwilling or unable to lead, especially National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) needing to follow agendas dictated by national governments. Civil society, while highly engaged on sustainability issues, typically does not have the scale or infrastructure to deliver the required change. And multilateral associations, including the UNWTO, seem to be beholden to the political whims of national members.

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