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Thai Hotels Association

Thai Hotels Association stamps out sales of illegal ivory

In September 2004, a month prior to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora…

In September 2004, a month prior to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) being convened in Bangkok between October 2 to 14, 2004, there is currently no ivory for sale in any Thai Hotels Association (THA) member hotel in Bangkok.

Ivory has been prized since ancient times for its lustre, texture, and durability – qualities making it particularly suitable for carving decorative items. Archaeological evidence in China shows ivory jewellery existed almost 5,000 years ago and there is documented evidence of ivory imports to Japan dating back over 1,300 years. In Victorian England, drawing rooms were filled with ivory knick-knacks, while “the ivories” became a colloquial term for dice and piano keys. Over the centuries, elephants have been killed to supply the lucrative trade in this precious commodity, often referred to as “white gold”. Illegal ivory trade is a serious global problem that is ravaging elephant populations in Africa and Asia.

Taking ivory out of Thailand is illegal. Taking it abroad is almost certainly illegal. (This is true for at least the 166 signatory countries of CITES, the international convention which prohibits international trade in ivory.)

Surveys conducted by WWF Thailand in December 2000 revealed almost 28,000 pieces of ivory valued at $3.5 million openly on sale in Bangkok. Around 40% of this was found in shops on the premises of 35 well-known hotels, all members of the Thai Hotels Association (THA). Most of this ivory was thought to have been illegally imported from Africa.

These findings were brought to the attention of the THA who immediately started working with WWF Thailand to address this issue in earnest. Actions included discussion of the issue in the monthly meetings of the THA, articles in the THA newsletter, as well as official letters (and less formal personal approaches) to the managers of individual hotels.

Through the THA-WWF Thailand collaboration, follow-up surveys by WWF in October 2003, revealed that these efforts were starting to bear fruit; only half as many hotels were found which still had ivory for sale in shops located on their premises, while the volume and value of ivory seen in hotels had decreased by as much as 80%.

Ivory Trade in Bangkok Hotels


Throughout 2004, THA has remained determined in their efforts. WWF showed that only 8 hotels had any ivory left on their premises in July 2004. In August 2004, this was down to one and in September 2004, a month prior to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) being convened in Bangkok between October 2 to 14, 2004, there is currently no ivory for sale in any THA member hotel in Bangkok.

“This is a great success, showing what can be achieved through collaboration with determined and effective partners” says Dr. Robert Mather, Country Representative of WWF Thailand, adding that “Under the leadership of Khun Prakit Chinamourphong,

Vice President, the Thai Hotels Association has shown itself to be an organisation that not only promotes the business interests of its members, but also champions responsible behaviour and care for wildlife and nature – this is a great example for the tourism industry not only in Thailand, but throughout the world, and is something that Thai people should be rightly proud of.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora: Conference of the Parties, or CITES CoP13, is a major international conference of 166 nations during which a number of wildlife trade and conservation issues will be discussed.

Remaining elephant populations are severely threatened; the 30,000 – 50,000 Asian elephants alive today represent about one tenth of the numbers of African elephants. In Thailand, it is estimated that there are approximately only 2,300 elephants left in the wild population.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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