Responsible tourism and the Thai sufficiency economy
The fundamental factors of responsible and sustainable tourism in Thailand are readily understood within the country to reflect the monarch’s concept of a sufficiency economy, which King Bhumibol Adulyadej began to think about in 1972 and formalized in 1997 following the Asian Financial Crisis. The Thai sufficiency economy is broadly summarized into three principles. moderation, a “not too little, not too much” approach; reasonableness, looking out for the consequences of actions on the community, the environment and the society; and prudence, a system of self-immunity against the impact of internal and external shocks.
An example of a successful sufficiency economy application in Thailand tourism is found in the Ban Mae Kampong Village. In 2000, the village started to offer home-stay services to allow tourists to experience the lifestyle of local people and explore surrounding countryside to appreciate natural beauty. It was named a One Tambon One Product (OTOP) Village Champion in 2004.
Platforms for Responsible Tourism in Thailand
There is no formal governmental body in Thailand responsible for sustainable tourism. Instead, there are non-governmental platforms that promote and coordinate responsible tourism.
Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA)
The Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA) was set up in 1997 with the aim to share experience-based knowledge and expertise, ensure the sustainability of responsible tourism, and promote meaningful experiences for Thailand’s guests. TEATA works with ecotour operators who are members of TEATA with ecotourism activities in their tours. The public can use TEATA as a database to search for tour operators with ecotourism activities.
Community Based Tourism Network Coordination Centre
The Community Based Tourism (CBT) Network Coordination Centre provides a database of CBT communities, programs and services. It aims to link up tour operators or tourists to local communities for CBT programs. One example of such program is living with the locals to learn about their way of life and another example is the give back to the local community by volunteering.