Thammasak Yee Min, Director of Natural Heritage-Based Tourism, Eco-Friendly Tourism, and Net Zero Tourism Group at Ramkhamhaeng University, revealed the successful hosting of Thailand’s inaugural sustainable island tourism seminar. The event took place from June 8th to 9th, 2023, in Koh Tao Subdistrict, Koh Phangan District, Surat Thani Province. The seminar, held in collaboration with the island community, brought together 21 islands, including Koh Chang, Koh Kood, Koh Mak, Koh Talu, Koh Pitak, Koh Phaluai, Koh Phayam, Koh Phuket, Koh Racha, Koh Lanta, Koh Kho Khao, Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi, Koh Lipe, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Pu, Koh Jum, Koh Libong, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
A network of 23 organizations, including the Department of Tourism, Koh Tao Tourism Business Association, Koh Tao Municipality, Marine Science Society of Thailand, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Tourism Industry Development and Creative Economy Coordinating Office, Agency for Administration and Management of Capital for Enhancement of National Competitiveness (KorKhor), Office of the Science Promotion Commission Research and Innovation (TSRI), Thailand Environment Institute, Pollution Control Department, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization), Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism Association, Raks Thai Foundation, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Association for the Study and Conservation of Marine Biodiversity, Faculty of Science Ramkhamhaeng University, Faculty of Management Sciences Silpakorn University, Faculty of Medicine Prince of Songkhla University, and support organizations such as Krung Thai Bank, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited, Lomprayah High-Speed Ferry Company Limited, and Bangkok Airways, came together to support the seminar.
The theme of the seminar focused on driving green economy initiatives on the islands, aiming to exchange past lessons learned and establish guidelines for sustainable island tourism development. Key areas of discussion included enhancing competitive capabilities through sustainable resource utilization, integrated biodiversity development, and human resources. The seminar addressed common challenges faced by island communities and emphasized net-zero carbon tourism research, waste management, equitable distribution of benefits, and cooperation between the private sector, government, and communities to attract quality tourists and create sustainable tourism.
During the seminar, the “Koh Tao Pledge” was announced, demonstrating the commitment to sustainable island tourism development and the transition towards net-zero carbon tourism. The pledge aims to coordinate actions related to sustainable island tourism among all stakeholders, including government agencies, the private sector, financial institutions, educational and research institutions, international organizations, NGOs, and local communities. The pledge emphasizes taking concrete actions such as developing action plans, implementing sustainable tourism standards, measuring and disclosing carbon footprints, reducing carbon footprints, supporting ecosystem protection and restoration projects, implementing effective waste management, ensuring minimal impact on natural resources, promoting cooperation, supporting sustainable finance, and investing in human resource development to achieve sustainable island tourism goals and the transition to net-zero carbon tourism.
The seminar was organized by the Natural Heritage-Based Tourism Group, Eco-Friendly Tourism, and Net Zero Carbon Tourism, under the Office of the Coordination of Tourism Industry Development and the Creative Economy Capital Administration and Management Unit for Enhancement of National Competitiveness (NEDA). Prominent participants in the seminar included Associate Professor Dr. Yongthanit Pimolsathien, Chairperson of the Natural Heritage-Based Tourism Group; Associate Professor Dr. Thammasak Yee Min, Director of Natural Heritage-Based Tourism Group; Assistant Professor Dr. Pimlap.