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Mahouts rest as their elephants eat fruit in Chiang Mai. Credit: The Antlantic

While Western activists focus on the animals, their handlers are often treated as expendable.

Mahouts today are caught in a catch-22. Tourists have come to believe that traditional tools like chains and bullhooks are inherently unethical, but still want to be able to have up-close-and-personal interactions with elephants. “I use a bullhook because some elephants we cannot control with our hands,” one mahout explained. “Humans are small. Elephants spook easily and are dangerous. If elephants get scared, they kill people.”

“By working with mahouts to improve their treatment of elephants while also acknowledging the difficult lives mahouts often live themselves, we can positively impact the captive elephant situation as a whole. Criticizing a culture that is not your own does not help change it.”

There are many more aspects to consider that outsiders tend to forget when thinking about elephant welfare. Read the full article to see things from a different perspective considering culture, habitat, and elephant welfare.

By Hilary Cadigan for The Atlantic.

 

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

Although Macao is often referred to as the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’ it has much more to offer than casinos. Macao retains its Portuguese colonial legacy with European architecture and cuisine still evident throughout the city.

 

With the annual PATA Travel Mart taking place in Macao next week we share with you some tips to ensure a responsible and enjoyable visit to this fascinating part of north east Asia.

 

Enjoy local foods

 

Enjoying authentic fare will be easy in Macao as there are some amazing street food markets that offer local food. Explore the Red Market, where you can try many local snacks and Macanese specialties. Visit Coloane Market which offers all kinds of healthy and organic options. Check out the Food Street at Broadway Macao, located on a traditional Macanese hawker-style street market that offers many Asian and local specialties. Make sure you try the famous Portuguese egg tarts and other signature dishes.

 

Buy local souvenirs

 

Get your souvenirs at local shops, and try to ‘spread the wealth’ by shopping in different places. Remember, do not buy any souvenirs made from endangered species, which can be illegal to export. Download the Wild Witness app that enables tourists to report illegal wildlife trade by taking a picture of a product and sharing its location. Common products from endangered species include ivory, tortoiseshell, reptile skins, furs, corals and seashells.

 

Sleep green

 

More ‘green’ hotels are popping up in Macao. Make sure that you book a hotel that meets the appropriate sustainability standards by looking for the Macao Green Hotel Award label. You could choose one of these five Sands hotels that are Gold category winners: Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao, Conrad, Sheraton Grand and Holiday Inn Macao.

 

Use public transport or walk

 

Try to avoid taking taxis and use public transport or walk. The Macao peninsula and the islands are easy to explore on foot. The bus system might be difficult for foreigners that do not speak the local dialects but most hotels offer free shuttle-bus services to take you to tourist attractions and casinos.

 

Enjoy nature

 

Macao has an impressive nature scene. Go cycling on Taipa Island and be rewarded with some amazing views. The larger island of Coloane, formerly a haven for pirates, is popular for hiking and cycling. Macao is also known for its gardens including the Lou Lim Loc Garden on the peninsula. Camoes Garden is also popular with locals and tourists.

 

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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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This Panda Bear Is Actually a Solar Farm and It’s Saving China

Categories: Asia, Energy, Recommended Reading
Comments Off on This Panda Bear Is Actually a Solar Farm and It’s Saving China

Credit: Shutterstock

 

The adorable creature is the new face of the solar energy initiative.

 

As the country’s national animal, pandas are everywhere in China. They appear on fuzzy slippers, crackers, and coins.
And now, the beloved bear will make an appearance in a new field, quite literally: solar energy farms.

The Chinese energy company Panda Green Energy Group is building 100 panda-shaped solar energy farms across the country.

From above, the assortment of panels will look like a cartoon panda smiling up at the sky.

 

Read the full article here. 

 

By Tess Sohngen from Global Citizen.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Rising demand for Thai organic goods in both local and export markets has prompted the government to pursue a range of initiatives aimed at encouraging organic farming practices.

 

The state is launching a new programme to promote organic agriculture by encouraging a reduction in the amount of new rice planting, and a shift from commercial varieties to organic strains …

Read more here. 

 

By Oxford Business Group

 

 

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On a recent holiday to Koh Samui, Thailand, PATA Marketing and Communications Intern Kaitlin Corbeil took the opportunity to hold an impromptu interview with Mr Korakot Nachalaem, Resort Manager at Six Senses Resort.

In this interview, Mr Nachalaem talks about the success of the resort’s sustainable practices, explaining how the property utilizes its island environment, transforms food waste into profit and highlights the need for sustainable habits both in the industry and in the lives of all individuals. He also took a moment to provide a guided tour of the property’s self-managed goat and chicken farm, a key component of the resort’s strategic sustainability policy.

Six Senses is just one example of how hotels can take steps to manage their food waste and environmental impact, providing an encouraging example that should inspire other hotel and resort properties to do the same.

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Photographer: Wayne Lawrence for Bloomberg Businessweek

A mahout, wearing the traditional mohom outfit—denim, red neckerchief, and yellow straw hat—sits atop an elephant at Anantara.

Anantara Golden Triangle in northern Thailand is one of the only places where you can ethically interact with the country’s elephants.

 

I’m half-submerged in the Mekong River—the watery border that ­separates Laos from Thailand and Myanmar—sitting atop a big-eared, pink-spotted, 3-ton elephant named Poonlarp. Her skin looks soft from a distance, but it’s much coarser up close, covered in inch-long bristles. Her gait, which at first gives the appearance of flowing-through-honey movement, feels wobbly up this high. She’s alternately headstrong and playful. If you’ve ever walked a large, stubborn dog, you have an idea what it’s like to ride an elephant. This is the ­bucket-list item that brings people here to Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort.

 

Read more about ethically interacting with elephants at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort here. 

 

 

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Over a year ago, the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which collectively represent millions of dreams and aspirations. GreenBiz, in partnership with the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, is publishing 17 letters by Yale University students that highlight the ideas of youth regarding the 2030 developmental agenda. This series seeks to drive forward the collective will to translate the SDGs into reality.

Dear Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),

A friend recently told me about Ko Tao, a scuba diver’s dream of an island in Thailand where scuba enthusiasts from all over the world converge to spend morning to night submerged in a vast underwater wonderland of coral and fish, and then fill their remaining waking hours discussing dive sites and marine sights. This went on my list of future vacation spots — an ever-growing list of (mostly) dive sites in Southeast Asia that I wonder if I ever actually will see.

 

Read the rest of the letter and the full article here. 

By Maki Tazawa from GreenBiz.

 

 

 

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

The unpredictable south west monsoon has arrived in destinations across south east Asia. These heavy rains, essential for agriculture, may nevertheless dampen the spirits of international visitors. The rains may also, with planning and aforethought, dent the bottom line forecasts of even the most experience travel industry operators.

 

To manage issues arising during the monsoon season it may prove beneficial for industry players to place more emphasis on the needs of eco-friendly travellers.

 

Read on for some basic tips on how to create an eco-friendly package during the monsoon season:

 

  1. Say ‘no’ to plastic coats

Instead of handing out disposable plastic ponchos to your guests, rent out umbrellas, offer high quality rain jackets or hand out eco-friendly (biodegradable) ponchos. Some companies allow you to print your company’s logo on the products as a way of raising your brand’s profile and making a clear statement about what your business stands for. Be careful to choose PFC-free products. Yes, being sustainable can help grow your business.

 

  1. Provide an eco-friendly insect repellent

Mosquitoes love the monsoon rains. Be sure to protect your guests from irritating mosquito bites while still being conscious of their health and the environment. Brands such as Cutter or Repel carry eco-friendly repellent. Handing out a portable mosquito net can work as well. Here are some other natural and easy ways to repel mosquitos.

 

  1. Choose the right activity

Offering the right activity can be challenging during the rainy season. Consider offering sustainable outdoor activities in your package that take advantage (safely) of the heavy rains, such as river rafting or visiting a rice farm. Even indoor activities such as cooking or crafting classes can be enjoyable ways in which to experience local culture.

 

  1. Encourage travelling

Before the guests arrive, send them a reminder about what clothes to pack for the rainy season. Light, eco-friendly attire dries quickly after a heavy rainfall and it is also lighter to carry, thereby helping to reduce CO2 emissions.

 

Make the most of this season as travellers are now looking for good deals, fewer crowds, and eco-friendly operators. The monsoon seasons of south east Asia have it all.

 

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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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