Andaman Discoveries – 2014 Finalist

Andman Discoveries web

2CULTURAL PRS  ICONAndaman Discoveries in Thailand was born out of tragedy, and formed shortly after the Boxing Day Tsunami when villagers decided that community-based tourism would allow them to generate additional income and support their traditions, culture, and lifestyle. Since then, Andaman Discoveries has been offering various tours (volunteer trips, family holidays, and educational visits for schools) to empower the local community. Their Moken Experience tour supports nomadic communities preserve their culture through responsible tourism.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Cultural Preservation…

  • Education is key at Andaman Discoveries. As well as offering educational tours to school groups, they also work to educate all guests by providing information in the following forms: Pre-Departure Guide, In-Village Guide, Visitor’s Phrasebook, Koh Surin Moken In-Village Guide, and Koh Surin Moken Way of Life.
  • They have created a library collection on local Moken culture. Moken Sea Nomads, an ancient sea people who have lived along Thailand’s North Andaman coast for thousands of years. Traditionally nomadic, the Moken are hunter-gatherers that live in harmony with nature. Guests are encouraged to learn more to discover how they can help preserve this culture that faces challenges of modernisation.
  • A translator accompanies guests on village tours and if they are attending traditional ceremonies, so that customs can be communicated.
  • They advocate traditional building within the community, and the use of sustainable building materials.
  • Guests can learn more about traditional Thai family life by staying at one of their partner homestays . Fun activities include learning how to prepare local food dishes.
  • To support local artisans, they have a shop which provides the opportunity for seven villages to sell their products and traditional crafts.
  • Their historic tours have resulted in the Moken community sharing their wisdom with others and have been inspired to build traditional boats to inform guests about their nomadic heritage. Tours introduce guests to the traditional lifestyle and culture of local communities, which help local communities develop a sense of place and provide the guest with a greater understanding of the area’s cultural heritage.
  • Moken communities have been integral in the development of tours, based on their recommendation. Jobs have been generated for engaged individuals, who have also benefited from capacity building in sustainable tourism development.

 

For more information about Andaman Discoveries, please visit their website.

 

Borneo Eco Tours – 2014 Finalist

Borneo Eco web

1COMMUNITY ICONBorneo Eco Tours, based in Malaysian Borneo, has been a pioneer in responsible nature tours since 1991. Two of their most popular destinations in which they operate includes the iconic Kinabatangan River, where guests can enjoy their Sukau Rainforest Lodge and Borneo’s primates, and Kudat, which provides opportunities for guests to visit and support cottage industries along the scenic coast.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Community Engagement and Development…

  • In 1996 Borneo Eco Tours established a non-profit foundation, BEST Society, to deliver community projects in destinations in which they operate. To date, this has included installing water tanks to villages with no access to clean water, medical and dental camps, introducing organic farming projects in rural areas, and tree planting.
  • They are very committed to sourcing staff locally, and pride themselves that 100% local of their team is made up of local people, including management level.  Furthermore, staff have access to great benefits such as a higher than national minimum wage, medical benefits, recreation activities, allowances for overtime, and special skills training.
  • After more than two decades of successful business, Borneo Eco Tours shares its expertise and access to useful contacts with other budding entrepreneurs. They have been training local community members in tourism and supporting them to establish their own social enterprise. Some examples include: increasing access to markets for artisans (e.g. beaded jewellery makers, weavers, coconut oil and honey producers), sending 50 farmers on an organic farming training course,  and technical support to accommodation proprietors.
  • As big believers in sharing their cultural heritage, many tours include visits to cottage industries which support the local economy.
  • To date, their operations have generated approximately $127,000 for community and environmental projects. They have achieved this by including a levy on every guest’s bill which automatically is invested into local BEST projects.

 

For more information about Borneo Eco Tours, please visit their website.

 

 

 

 

Reality Tours & Travel – 2014 Finalist

Reality web

1COMMUNITY ICONReality Tours and Travel is based in Mumbai and is most famous for their Dharavi slum tour. Following the success of their ever expanding product range in the city, they have recently spread their wings to the capital, Kerala, and Rajasthan. Their tagline is “see the real India”; guests get beyond tourism to experience authentic destinations in India, and their unique social business structure supports community development projects along the way.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Community Engagement and Development…

  • Reality’s Dharavi slum tours showcase the enterprising heart of this community. The tour gives guests an insight into this bustling destination, but there is a strict no photo policy and responsible clothing guidelines for guests to reduce their impact.
  • They have established a sister NGO, Reality Gives, and 80% of profit from all tours goes to the charity to improve the quality of life in the community they operate in. Programs include: community centre, youth empowerment program, English language classes, computer classes, girls football club, library, and curriculum development.
  • Around 93% of Reality’s staff comes from the surrounding area, with many from the Dharavi community itself.
  • Committed to continuously improving themselves, they recently commissioned an external consultant to gather feedback from Dharavi residents. As a result, they are improving on areas identified, including enhancing the reach of their NGO work.
  • In a culture where girls sometimes have to take the back seat, Reality Gives is creating opportunities for girls in activities they would normally not be able to partake in. Through their girls’ football program, they are learning leadership skills, responsibility, friendship, and English.

 

For more information about Reality Tours and Travel, please visit their website.

 

Village Ways – 2014 Finalist

Village Ways web

1COMMUNITY ICONVillage Ways offers eye-opening experiences in India, Nepal, and Ethiopia. In each destination guests can experience the essence of the destination by spending time with families and communities. Each place of stay is an autonomous business belonging to the community, typically a specially constructed or restored village guesthouse, providing direct benefits to your hosts.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of our 2014 Finalists in the category Best in Community Engagement and Development…

  • Many of the homestays guests can experience have been lovingly renovated. Village Ways provides funding for renovation at properties they wish to send guests to. They provide 40% grant and 60% interest free loan, payable only if they send guests there. Communities form committees and manage the enterprise together, empowering them through the running of their own business.
  • They have established a charitable trust as a model to help wider community development, with the objective to provide skills and capacity building to rural communities, to help them improve their quality of lives.
  • Spread benefits by ensuring that the committees have a member from each household.
  • 100% of Village Ways staff is local.
  • In addition to providing training within destinations for accommodation entrepreneurs, they take trainees to different areas to get exposure of industry.
  • Village Ways operates in many untouched destinations, providing immersive experiences with cross cultural interactions with families at homestays.
  • Building communities through tourism, Village Ways ensures local people are involved with the whole process of implementation. They have values of inclusivity and have encouraged women to take on guiding roles.
  • Communities have commented that the process of establishing tourism projects has brought people together and strengthened the community.

For more information about Village Ways, please visit their website.

2014 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards: Winners

WinnerWe are incredibly excited to reveal the 2014 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winners. The following businesses have now completed the first stage of the competition and been shortlisted from applicants from across the region.

The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards are based on the UNWTO Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. Our categories both align with criteria in different pillars of sustainable tourism, and recognise inspirational operators.

1COMMUNITY ICONBest in Community Engagement and Development

This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which your business operates.

Winner: Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia

Based in Malaysian Borneo, Borneo Eco Tours has been a pioneer in responsible nature tours since 1991. Two of their most popular destinations in which they operate includes the iconic Kinabatangan River, where guests can enjoy their award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge and Borneo’s famed primates, and Kudat, which provides opportunities for guests to visit and support cottage industries (supported by their partner NGO, BEST) along the scenic coast.

Finalists: Reality Tours & Travel, IndiaVillage Ways, India

2CULTURAL PRS  ICONBest in Cultural Preservation

This award recognizes engagement and efforts by tourism businesses in preserving, enhancing and promoting local cultures and heritage.

Winner: Ock Pop Tok, Laos

Ock Pop Tok is located in the stunning UNESCO town of Luang Prabang in Laos. For the past 15 years they have been working to cultivate and preserve Laos’ textile heritage through sustainable tourism. Today, they have visitor accommodation, a Living Arts Centre, retail outlets and a restaurant – all where visitors can enjoy the colourful textures as rich as Laotian culture.

Finalist: Andaman Discoveries, Thailand

6INITIATIVE ICONMost Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative

This award recognizes grass-roots initiatives championing responsible tourism within their destination.

Winner: ChildSafe Network (Friends International), Cambodia

The ChildSafe Network, delivered by Friends-International, is helping to protect vulnerable children in tourism destinations across Cambodia and other parts of South East Asia. Their 7 Tips for Travellers helps tourists make the right choices in responsible travel to advocate child safety. Beyond that, they’re also working behind the scenes to get children off the streets through vocational training, supporting their parents through jobs, and generating funding and employment through social ventures.

Finalist: BEST Society, Malaysia

Soneva Resorts, Thailand & Maldives – Most Inspiring Accommodation

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Soneva Resorts for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes the accommodation provider that excels in all of the above categories by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring accommodation of the year.

Soneva Resorts is the original barefoot luxury brand, and still one of the travel industry’s greatest innovators. The acronym SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences) explains the Soneva philosophy. Intelligent Luxury, is all about creating unforgettable, enlightening experiences that rejuvenate each guest’s love of SLOW LIFE. It’s about illuminating lives whilst treading lightly on the earth.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Excellent sustainable business model incorporating social, economic and environmental aspects.
  • Internal and external impact assessment.
  • Mandatory sustainability training.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • A great personal touch to guest communications with “Mr./Ms Fridays.”
  • Concrete emission calculation and reduction goals.
  • Soneva just go so far beyond business as usual… innovation after innovation, active and creative on serious issues.
  • UNESCO Biosphere, shark protection, coral restoration project (30 tonnes of rock), waste to wealth centre, 85% waste recycled, serious engagement with the carbon calculator which avoids dis-ingenuity, Carbon sense fund 450,000 trees planted, whole world water initiative…
  • An established operator with good track record on responsible approaches to sustainable tourism practices.

Inspiring Management

  • Internal and external social and environmental impact assessments made.
  • Engage guests through information in rooms, personal interaction, personal tours, website.
  • Size, layout and location of all buildings planned to integrate the native vegetation into man-made structures and to maintain the natural charm. Large, vegetated parts of the island are unspoilt to provide cooling, shading, fresh air and natural experiences. Villa numbers are kept low.
  • All timber used from sustainable managed, certified sources.
  • Wheelchair accessibility to some villas.
  • Fushi property delivered international event on their SLOW LIFE concept, with international leaders to inspire wider audience on sustainability.
  • Founded WHOLE WORLD Water campaign through their SLOW LIFE Trust.
  • 2/3 properties Long Run Alliance Members; use own Soneva Carbon Calculator annually.
  • Won numerous awards for sustainability.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Hold annual Soneva Nature Trip (through NGO Eco Care, sponsored by Soneva) most influenial environmental awareness event in Maldives. Locals (including 100 students) do various activities, conduct audits and learn about environmental issues.
  • Financially supported Thalassemia Prevetion and Relief programme of screening blood donations (Maldives has highest genetic blood disease prevelance in world).
  • 92% local staff, 50% of management are local people.
  • Staff training target of 9 hours per month, each staff member has own My Development Plan. Mandatory sustainability training for all staff.
  • 50% food from local area (80% organic), lots grown at properties.
  • Each villa assigned with own butler, from local area, who engages guests with local customs etc.
  • 90% staff live onsite, provide good living conditions with access to recreational activities and three meals a day.
  • All staff paid above national minimum wage.
  • Monthly meetings with island leaders to maintain relationships and receive feedback.

Cultural Preservation

  • Do and Don’t guide provided (dress etc).
  • Invite local women to showcase cooking and invite guests to their home to learn.
  • Use locally produced materials for design e.g. coconut ropes.
  • Sale of local crafts through Soneva Gallery.

Resource Efficiency

  • 3% renewable energy – installed 70kW solar PV in 2009 (then biggest on Maldives), expanding to 350kW which will result in 50% reduction in diesel consumption.
  • Each villa has its own Little Green book with information on responsible tourism.
  • 100% self sufficient in water (45% rain water harvested, 45% desalination, 10% deep wells).
  • Water saving: aerators, low flow shower heads, water saving toilets.
  • Monthly monitoring of resource efficiency with targets and bonuses if achieved.
  • Soneva Carbon Calculator includes travel, freight etc – 2011-12 footprint was 42, 500 tons (15% from energy, 76% guest travel).
  • Established Carbon Sense Fund, 2% levy on room bill for carbon mitigation projects (reforestation in Thailand, SLOW LIFE in Myanmar, stoves project in Sudan).
  • Output treated sewage and grey water is mixed with brine to reduce salinity then released into sea.
  • Less than 15% is non-recyclable waste and sent away.
  • Established Eco Centro Waste to Wealth centre with Manager, handles and monitors all Fushi waste.
  • 85% food waste recycled, used on own herb garden.
  • Garden waste composted or bio-charcoal.
  • Working to improve chemicals by working with Eco Lab, hope to install rechargeable batteries.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Baa Atoll, where Soneva Fushi is situated, recently achieved UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. In-house marine biologist involved in establishment of management team for Biosphere Reserve, resort will contribute financially.
  • Soneva Fushi worked with local NGOs to lobby for shark protection and in 2010 a national Shark-fish ban was implemented.
  • Soneva Fushi has own Marine Biologist who trains staff on conservation.
  • Follow IUCN ‘no no’ red list for F&B, work with local fishermen for sustainable fish, prioritize organic food.
  • 66% area left undeveloped (e.g Soneva Fushi island has largest forest cover in Maldives).
  • Use of native salt and drought tolerant plants reduced need for irrigation.
  • Soneva Kiri established coral restoration project – 1,850 corals or 27 species were transplanted, 30 tons live rock incorporated.
  • Offer 3 nights free stay to guests in low season who contribute to community/conservation work.
  • 3 hours per week set aside for marine biologist to monitor reefs, working with IUCN, to development management plan.
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T+L 2012‘Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Accommodation Provider’ Award is sponsored by Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.

Sukau Rainforest Lodge – Most Inspiring Accommodation

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Sukau Rainforest Lodge for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. This award recognizes the accommodation provider that excels in all of the above categories by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring accommodation of the year.

Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo’s most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo’s magnificent wildlife. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Uses external experts to assist/advise on compliance issues.
  • Makes a significant contribution – mostly at own expense – to promoting benefits of sustainable tourism practice and ecotourism in Borneo and wider afield.
  • Consistent efforts to educate tourists and the industry about ecotourism for over a decade through different media and techniques.
  • Commitment to partnership and multi-stakeholder approach (e.g. set up association). Several international awards.
  • Active conservation and environmental practices – supporting KiTA, projects through BEST Society, etc. The BEST Society, of which the Founder is also the chair man has implemented lots of projects, which are reported annually and available to learn about online on the best website. It’s a great achievement to have raised over 1 million RM on community projects.
  • Good wages and welfare to staff. Weekly team meetings addressing staff’s personal development, supporting staff training opportunities – internal and external.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Great interpretation practices to inform and educate guests.
  • Feedback from community leaders.
  • Responsible wildlife viewing practices.

 Inspiring Management

  • Internal environmental and social impact assessments delivered.
  • Guests receive information on sustainable tourism through own personal booklet.
  • Work with compliance team to maintain legal compliance, work with NGOs (e.g. WWF) and specialist to monitor environmental aspects.
  • Weekly staff meetings to share personal development, some staff sent for training, H&S for all staff twice a year.
  • Some rooms and all public areas have wheelchair accessibility.
  • MD is advisor to International Ecotourism Society board and speaks at events on responsible tourism.
  • 1997 British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award.
  • World Travel Awards 2010 Winner for Best Asia Green Hotel award.
  •  Voted the top 50 best eco-lodges by National Geographic, 2009.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Provide opportunity for guests to vists local’s house, money goes direct to family, to learn about local culture.
  • Helped form KiTA, local tourism association, and its conservation levy scheme. Raised over RM1million to date through own and sister company, spent on community/conservation projects.
  • Provided 50 water tanks to local community.
  • Organised 3 medical camps, bringing doctor and dentist to local area.
  • School visits site twice a year to learn about conservation.
  • 53% local workforce, 40% of management are local people.
  • Hire local contractors, e.g. boat men or maintenance staff.
  • Provide internship opportunities for local people.
  • Policy to protect female staff, anyone who does not follow is immediately terminated and reported to police.
  • Newly constructed staff quarters, provide very good and better than other local standards of living.
  • Above minimum wage with other opportunities, e.g. share tips or night cruise fees.
  • Meet on ad hoc basis with community leaders and at times when delivering local projects.

Cultural Preservation

  • Do and Don’t provided by leaflet.
  • Design based on local style, reducing impact to trees, constructed by locals with as many local materials as possible.
  • All guests have to wear traditional sarung to dinner to immerse in local culture.
  • Sell regional crafts in the shop.

Resource Efficiency

  • Use of solar for water heating.
  • Avoid dependency on electricity by using e.g. kerosene lamps on walkways.
  • Inform guests about reducing energy and water through info in rooms.
  • Water from rain water harvesting and from river (treated) in dry season.
  • Water saving: toilets and showers.
  • Recently improved waste water management with new septic tanks installed.
  • All waste including recyclable taken offsite.
  • Performed risk assessment (2007) to identify risks from chemicals and have taken actions to prevent.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Evening presentations and talks from naturalists to educate guests on conservation.
  • First business in area to get solar, set buildings back from river, electric motor on river cruises, wildlife guidelines and have waste management scheme.
  • Has tree planting programme aimed at carbon offsetting.
  • Guests told to reduce noise after 9pm.
  • 80.8% area left undeveloped. All flora on site are native.
  • Funded river clean up through KiTA, reforestation and rehabilitated hornbills, pangolin, and an owl at the lodge.
  • Boardwalk design allows for elephants to move across. 
T+L 2012‘Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Accommodation Provider’ Award is sponsored by Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.

Scuba Junkie, Malaysia – Protection of Natural Areas & Wildlife

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Scuba Junkie for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes tourism businesses’ consideration of their local environment and biodiversity by actively supporting and protecting their natural assets.

Scuba Junkie provides daily dive trips to more than 25 islands in the Celebes Sea in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Whether you want macro diving at Mabul and Kapalai or wish to dive with sharks and turtles at Sipadan Island (frequently voted in the top 10 dives sites in the world) Scuba Junkie will take you there.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Good resource efficiency, educating guests, supports local projects.
  • Good environmental practices such as solar energy, sewage and grey water treatment, pollution control, native landscaping, etc.
  • Good practices and staff engagement in beach cleanups, reef cleanup dives, etc.
  • Full-time environmental officer.
  • Initiatives to reduce emissions such as boat/transfer sharing.
  • Efforts to reduce stress on reef areas frequented by divers.
  • Exemplary education / awareness raising, solar power, $70,000 spent on waste cleaning, best available sewage treatment, reef check, turtle hatchery, no seafood (wow!) and dive against debris.
  • Makes a worthwhile contribution to marine animal and coastal area conservation.
  • Has a strong commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

Inspiring Management

  • 2012 Winner Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards ‘Best in Protection of Natural Areas and/or Wildlife Conservation’

Community Engagement and Development

  • Access to local communities remains open around the resort.
  • Staff, guests and local community are engaged in e.g. beach cleans, school projects.
  • Each year spend around $70,000 supporting local waste removal scheme for local community who do not have government support (Bajau Laut community “sea gypsies”) = 150 bins and 10 skips.

Resource Efficiency

  • Use solar energy for water heating but aware of need to explore other options, in discussion with consultants about improving energy efficiency and use of fuels.
  • Recycle area for staff and guests in restaurant.
  • Approximately 80% of products used are biodegradable and are actively looking for ways to improve.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • All land rights and environmental regulations are adhered to.
  • Buildings from 60m off the hide tide line to allow access, preserve sea grass and protect nesting turtles.
  • Guests provided with information on local customs and environment through compulsory welcome briefing, sign boards and information in their rooms.
  • Weekly presentations on shark conservation and sea turtles, pressures and importance are discussed. Also similar at expos, for government, local and international media. To date, hundreds to presentations on the topic.
  • Best available sewage treatment plant, Grade A with hydroponic system to water plants with output water and sludge drying beds. Nothing raw released into sea.
  • Grease traps in kitchen and grey water processed via onsite Biosolv treatment plant.
  • Weekly ‘Dive against Debris’ cleans up, non-recyclable waste taken to mainland and managed by government body.
  • Have an environmental area in communal part of resort, TV runs showing their achievements and how guests can play a part.
  • Chair Mabul Marine week event and run the Mabul Turtle Hatchery, managed by trained staff and supported by community ‘rangers’. Last year, hatched thousands of eggs.
  • Do not use chemical on gardens (use native plants) to prevent run off into sea.
  • Use low level lighting on jetty to reduce light pollution.
  • Employ a full time Environment Officer (and two Marine Biologists) to engage staff and guests with issues; all staff trained in environmental practices.
  • Do not serve any seafood because none available locally that is sourced sustainably.
  • All dive guides have excellent reputation for providing ‘do and don’t’ in briefings.
  • Certified reef check dive centre, have a reef check trainer and provide eco dive master courses.
  • Advise Semporna Shark Sanctuary (aim to protect wider Sipadan area and reefs) and support the Manta Trust.
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Sampran Riverside, Thailand – Cultural Preservation

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Sampran Riverside for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. This award recognizes engagement and efforts by tourism businesses in preserving, enhancing and promoting local cultures and heritage.

Sampran Riverside (formerly known as Rose Garden Riverside) is a family-run property close to Bangkok, where visitors can experience authentic Thai way of life and learn about local wisdom. For decades it has been considered one of Bangkok’s favourite attractions because of the obvious dedication to preserving Thailand’s natural and cultural heritage by engaging with the local community.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Supports cultural preservation through preservation of buildings and also preserving Thai culture, provides high employment.
  • Good resource management practices.
  • Good story about protecting trees and sites of cultural and spiritual significance.
  • Use of local building materials.
  • Good practices to educate visitors.
  • Various ways to incorporate local art and culture into visitor activities, and specific events/activities highlighting local heritage.
  • Successfully implementing “edutainment”.
  • It’s a very managed business for a ‘Thai village’, but beautifully and sensitively presented, and the emphasis on organic farming, local crafts, providing training for local people and students, etc protects Sampran from feeling staged.
  • The community market and organic agriculture development centre is a clear positive development.
  • Provides a unique Thai cultural experience with a focus on cultural and architectural preservation.  Has a long history of serving the tourism industry and providing local employment opportunities through the preservation and presentation of Thai culture.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Arts and crafts workshops support 50 local jobs in traditional e.g. silk processing, bamboo dancing etc. Initiated through local staff’s traditions that may be lost.
  • Initiated workshops as a programme to promote awareness of Thai culture through participation.
  • Sell locally made organic herbal products to support local economy.

Cultural Preservation

  • In 1967 the management saved old teakwood houses from local farmers in the area who where shifting into modern housing, and reconstructed (same materials) them around the central lake as accommodation for guests.
  • Preserved 7 Thai houses to provide a unique cultural experience for visitors.
  • Cared for trees around the property are 50 to 100 years old during the growth of business, including a spiritual bulletwood tree and a banyan tree that is used for traditional Thai wedding ceremonies.
  • The Thai Village House and market pavilions (host weekly farmers market with local traders, including artisans) is constructed from local natural materials incorporating traditional design.
  • Welcome briefings inform guests of local customs and traditions. Including briefing on how to dress for ceremonies in presence of monks.
  • Provide guided tours and engage in Organic Farming, Thai art and craft workshops, informing of cultural significance.
  • Daily cultural show with literature explaining cultural aspects, includes Elephant Demonstration to educate guests on livelihoods of elephants in Thailand.
  • Guests can participate in traditional alms giving ceremonies and learn more. Thai weddings take place, guests explained about customs.
  • Traditional Thai cuisine, ingredients sourced from own organic farm or other local farmers. Promote seasonal produce.
  • Thai culture throughout business, e.g. garlands at theme events, pottery making workshops.
  • River cruise to temples etc, restored traditional barge.

Resource Efficiency

  • Minimise waste from food produce, e.g. serve food in coconut shelves, use leaves for decorations, rice seedlings as table centre pieces.

Lisu Lodge, Thailand – Community Engagement & Development

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Lisu Lodge for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which your business operates.

Named after the Lisu hill tribe village that is found near the lodge, Lisu Lodge is part of a community-based project that aims to conserve the natural heritage of the hill tribes of northern Thailand. The Lisu migrated from southern China and Tibet in the early 20th century.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Outstanding benefits spread throughout community. Long term, consistent commitment to the host community.
  • A fund set up to support local communities – Village Bank – an innovative example of how a business can contribute to local well-being in a concrete and practical way. Tangible, quantifiable contributions to local capacity and development funding.
  • 55% occupancy rate and 9000+ guests last year – these demonstrate that the lodge is a financially viable business, which is a critical factor.
  • Focus on low-impact activities such as walking, trekking and biking – a great way to engage travellers in the lodge’s effort to walk the talk.
  • Local villagers are not just the beneficiaries, but also involved in the business of the lodge – e.g. being part of marketing efforts, identifying new sources of revenues, having a say in management practices.
  • Ecological and sustainability practices such as use of locally sourced building materials, solar panel, water usage agreed by villagers, sewage management, etc. demonstrate awareness and commitment beyond what meets the eye. 

Inspiring Management

  • Provide each guest room with information on local culture and ways in which to behave when visiting a villager’s house.
  • Local guides provide orientation at the beginning of each tour, explain etiquette of hill tribes.
  • 94% workforce is local.
  • Provide opportunities for staff and villagers in business development, education, hospitality training.
  • Staff are paid exceeds national minimum wage (monthly salary, share of guest service charge, social security); meals and uniform provided.

Community Engagement and Development

  • All staff are local community members, including tour staff.
  • Tour guides have been trained with experienced facilitator to develop ‘introduction brief’, information on safety, history of Lisu communities, culture, environmental issues etc.
  • Local community engaged from beginning of development.
  • Lodge contributes to village bank each year, owned and operated by locals exclusively. 2012 contributed approx. US$4,000. Money funds community projects, e.g. waste collection, decided upon by community (lodge has no input).
  • Contribution to building of a school, dam, water investigation studies, disease prevention measures.
  • Purchase fresh produce from local farmers at a fair price.
  • Local work force try to purchase other goods from local family members.
  • Designated area in lodge for local people to sell handicrafts at no charge, as a result the village is now one of the largest local suppliers of handicrafts to the region.
  • Regular meetings with village chief. 

Cultural Preservation

  • Lodge has library with largest collection of hill tribe literature, available for guests and locals.
  • Guests visit local festivals or ceremonies upon invite of community members only.

Resource Efficiency

  • Solar energy used to heat water.
  • Water sourced from source agreed by local villagers.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Run project ‘Earth Care’ and deliver annual workshops on e.g. recycling for local people.
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