Various activities and initiatives on this small island in Trat province are seeing admirable efforts towards more sustainable and inclusive tourism, in line with the new direction of Thai tourism nationwide.
BANGKOK – The small and picturesque island of Ko Mak off the coast of Trat province – where the natural resources are still intact and the local way of life is still very much the norm – has for a number of years now being make steady and admirable progress in its goal to become the first ‘Low-carbon Destination’ in Thailand.
With Ko Mak gradually being discovered by more and more tourists, the public and private sectors together with the island’s local population are dedicated to promoting sustainable and environment-friendly tourism there. An impressive number of initiatives and activities have been implemented in the past decade to create a tourism model that has the least impact on the natural landscape and the community, and which embraces widespread distribution of income through the community.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor, said “Ko Mak’s path towards becoming the first ‘Low-carbon Destination’ is very much in line with Thailand’s direction towards more responsible and more sustainable tourism through the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022-2023: Amazing New Chapters’ campaign, and the government’s Bio-Circular-Green or BCG Economy Model. It is wonderful to see such a genuine effort aimed at preserving the natural and cultural attractions that make the island so charming.”
Helping to spread awareness of the good work being done on Ko Mak, TAT launched the “Laughing Island Conqueror vs Low-carbon Footprint Traveller” initiative, from May to July, this year. The project encouraged tourists to Trat province to partake in responsible tourism through activities that reduced their carbon footprint.
Being mindful of their carbon footprint, tourists could take a unique route covering the low-carbon destination of Ko Mak, Ko Kradat (Safari Island) and Ko ‘Kai-Hua-Ro’ (Laughing Island), and along the way use a CF Calculator application to record their travel pattern, distance, tourism activities, and daily food consumption. By doing so, participating tourists were able to play a part in Ko Mak’s goal of becoming the first ‘Low-carbon Destination’ in Thailand, and help reduce waste that could contribute to the greenhouse effect, PM2.5 dust, and climate change.
The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) – which coordinates, promotes, and supports various parties in communities and localities to develop sustainable tourism in the framework of low-carbon tourism – has helped with the low-carbon mission on Ko Mak in different ways, such as encouraging efficient use of energy and water, waste management, and preserving the community way of life.
The Ko Mak Low-carbon Destination Declaration was signed on 25 September, 2012, and in 2015 three main campaigns were introduced: 1) Eat it Fresh, which campaigned for restaurants, hotels, and resorts on the island to buy seafood from the local fishermen and for the growing of vegetables and fruits free of pesticides; 2) Help Ko Mak, which encouraged tourists to use ‘green’ behaviour, such as re-using towels and turning off electrical appliances while not in use, and which sought to plant 10,000 trees on the island, and 3) A Good Host to encourage locals to reduce carbon producing activities, such as sorting waste and using renewable energy solar cells.
From 2020 onwards, various activities promoting low-carbon tourism have included tourists picking vegetables from a solar vegetable garden, green hotels following an environment-friendly criteria, Trash Hero volunteer garbage collection, and use of the ‘Ko Mak Low Carbon Calculator’ online tool.