If you want to support eco-friendly tourism when you visit Thailand, then be sure to get in touch with these award-winning companies and organisations...
The annual Responsible Thailand Awards shine a light on the organisations and businesses going above and beyond to ensure travellers have responsible and sustainable experiences that make a difference in Thailand. As always, this year there was tough competition but thanks to our judges’ thoughtful consideration, we’re proud to announce the winners of the 2023 Responsible Thailand Awards. So, without further ado...
Winner: Mahouts Elephant Foundation
Mahouts Elephant Foundation is a charity creating ethical and sustainable partnerships with Karen indigenous communities in northern Thailand. The foundation protects Asian elephants, the communities surrounding them and the forest they depend on. The foundation’s work enables the elephants to live in peace and dignity.
"An exemplary project caring for and rewilding elephants that have been exposed to cruel practices. An exceptional coming together of welfare for rescued elephants, benefit to the Karen community, and instructive tourism."
The Kao Tep Pitak community, based in Ban Kao Thep Pitak, Suratthani runs a community-led ecotourism enterprise providing homestays, meals and tours. It’s located next to a beautiful suspension bridge with a clear view of a heart-shaped mountain. The tourism programme engages all members of the community and provides a new income source while also promoting local entrepreneurs.
“Far more than a restaurant, this project is deeply rooted in the community it serves by offering responsible and enlightening tourist experiences."
Winner: Elephant Hills
Elephant Hills is a luxury tented jungle camp that also offers soft-adventure excursions. The camp is based in the tropical evergreen forest of Khao Sok National Park and comprises luxurious glamping tents made from waterproof canvas, which are fully equipped to provide a comfortable jungle stay.
“Bridging the connection between its guests, the surrounding environment and wildlife in need, Elephant Hills does an outstanding job in its contribution to responsible
Winner: Devasom Khao Lak
Devasom Khao Lak Resort is a small luxury resort by the Andaman Sea in Khao Lak. Paying homage to the opulence of the Asian maritime Silk Road during the 6th and 7th centuries, the resort’s intricate design is based on the archaic art and architecture of a lost civilisation that once resided here.
"This resort admirably tackles the many issues which can arise in the hotel industry – both environmental and social – to rise above other worthy nominees in a strong category. It’s inspiring to see a resort so dedicated to its local area – especially in areas of educational uplift and employment.
The New Heaven Reef Conservation Program protects and restores beautiful coral reef ecosystems around the island of Koh Tao, raising awareness and educating both tourists and locals about marine conservation and the plight of our planet’s most biodiverse and fragile spaces.
"New Heaven’s diving courses, focusing on conserving coral reefs, are making a crucial contribution to protecting Thailand’s marine life. Education is the key to safeguarding vulnerable environments, which is why New Heaven Reef
Conservation’s work is vital."
Winner: Pattaya Elephant Sanctuary
Pattaya Elephant Sanctuary provides a caring home for once mistreated elephants. The sanctuary adheres to an ethical model, limiting interaction with people, as well as a range of other measures. This allows the elephants to express their natural behaviours, including foraging in the jungle and interacting with one another.
"Renu’s courage and will to protect abused elephants has led to this wonderful and necessary sanctuary that shows a better way to treat elephants in the name of tourism. There isn’t a more deserving initiative to win this award – she’s an inspiration to us all."
We asked Wanderlust readers and the UK travel trade to nominate the Thailand-based organisations that they felt deserved recognition for their responsible initiatives and ongoing commitment to sustainable travel. The criteria for judging included the sustainability for each organisation, their demonstrable successes, and the legacy benefits for both Thailand and international visitors.