Responsible Tourism initiatives on Koh Mak

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Responsible Tourism initiativeson Koh Mak

With visitor numbers growing, Koh Mak’s Tourism Authority has an increased awareness of the effects on the island, knowing that this can
do both, good, and bad to local communities.  Together with the governmental organisation DASTA (Designated Areas for Sustainable
Tourism Administration), they decided to take action and protect Koh Mak’s peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty by launching
initiatives which are in line with sustainable development.

Under the slogan “Low Carbon Destination Koh Mak”, so far the following can be seen on the island:

“Low Carbon” – activities
Having fun on Koh Mak is easy – there are many activities to choose from, all with a focus on low impact to the environment. Whether you
want to kayak to a neighbouring island, try to find Nemo while snorkelling, experience the beauty of a starry night on a night fishing trip or
learn how to cook delicious local meals while having a stunning view of the ocean – you won’t get bored. Other options include (beach-)
volleyball, cycling, and hiking. However, you can also just relax happily on the beach while reading a book or spoil yourself and get a
wonderful massage.

As part of a current marketing initiative aptly named ‘Castaway’, famous local bloggers were recently invited to the island to test the
excellent opportunities and share their experiences online.


Here are some of the environmental solutions in place that will continue to make Koh Mak a destination of choice to the discerning
traveller:

Recycling centre
Waste management is always a challenge, especially on little islands. Therefore, Koh Mak has opened a recycling station featuring a
pyrolysis machine that turns plastic into Diesel fuel. In addition to such innovation, plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminium, glass and
hazardous waste is also being separated, reducing the amount of material in need of disposal and creating real solutions to the problem.

Organic gardens
Several hotels and restaurants have taken the initiative and have started to grow their own organic fruits and vegetables. Freshly grown
Papayas, lettuces, soy sprouts, tomatoes and other such produce is not only much healthier than vegetables grown with chemical
pesticides and fertilizers, it are also so much tastier! Plus, growing locally means avoiding the CO2 intensive transport from the main land
and enables kitchens to serve amazing fresh food.

Crab release project
Crabs of the local environment have a hard life nowadays due to overfishing and pollution which are increasing not only in Thailand, but also
throughout the region. On Koh Mak, crabs are bred and released into the ocean to help re-create a healthy underwater ecosystem. Visitors
can join the conservation effort and release crabs themselves, ensuring population growth and allowing the visitor to participate in
sustainable tourism.

Solar plants
Solar energy is one of the cleanest energy sources available. In the sunny, coastal regions of Thailand, this source is particularly beneficial
to these communities.  For these reasons, some of the larger or more innovative resorts have already installed photovoltaic plants to
relieve pressure on the fossil fuel powered generator of the island.

These initiatives are a great start into a truly sustainable destination development.  As the island community moves into the future, it will
be exciting to see with which other projects in tourism development, Koh Mak undertakes as it continues on its path!

A responsible tourism development needs the participation of all stakeholders, so please have a look what you can do as a tourist while
having a great time and staying safe:

The Author: Judith Schneider is a tourism professional with a Masters in Responsible Tourism Management. She has a love for Thailand, its
people and culture and currently lives in Bangkok, where she works as a consultant and accredited auditor for Green Globe.

Green Globe is the premier international certification program for sustainability in tourism. Members receive a broad framework which
helps them to become more sustainable while operating professionally and (cost-) effectively. Once certified, Green Globe also assists
those businesses in their PR efforts to spread their success in sustainability into the world.
Contact Judith for more information: Judith.schneider@gmail.com or check out their website www.greenglobe.com.

Stay tuned to learn more about Green Globe in one of our future 24LifeMagazine issues!