Responsible Thailand Awards 2019 winners

Responsible Thailand Awards 2019 winners

If you want to champion sustainable tourism when you visit Thailand, get in touch with these award-winning ventures and organisations

Marine, Nature & Heritage

Winner: Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa for the “Save Nakalay Reef Project

We are the first private natural reef coral restoration joint collaboration with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) o We are the first to restore, preserve, and grow natural coral reefs in Nakalay Bay o We are the first coral learning centre and nursery for Phuket o Began planting coral artificial structure frames o Recovering broken coral to rehabitilate in onshore nursery o We have rescued over 1,500 corals, thus far

Judges’ comments:

"A great example of a hotel actually pioneering a green project and taking it seriously; a great example to its visitors and to other hotels."

Animal Welfare

Winner: Samui Elephant Sanctuary

Samui Elephant Sanctuary is the first elephant sanctuary established on Koh Samui in Southern Thailand. Set on forested land, we offer a safe retirement home for elephants who have worked exhausting hours in the logging and tourism industries. Our focus is to raise awareness amongst tourists and locals of the plight of the Asian elephant and what we can all do to protect the species.

Judges’ comments:

"The sanctuary has battled adversity to give elephants a better life, and is a model for an ethical elephant experience. Education is key to their work, and an outreach programme is informing locals and visitors alike about the issues around elephant tourism."

Community Based Tourism

Winner: G Adventures/Planeterra

G Adventures, and it’s non profit partner, Planeterra, have founded two new social enterprise projects in the past 12 months, supporting community based tourism in areas which had previously been bypassed by travellers. 

Judges’ comments:

“This is a genuine and impressive case of tourism being a force for good. Nearly  700 community members are already directly benefiting from these new projects, and they will serve as a great model for the future.”


Winner: Soneva Kiri

Soneva Kiri is a luxury resort with a strong focus on sustainability.  It has developed its own Soneva Carbon Calculator to monitor the full footprint of its operations including energy consumption, air travel, ground travel, freight, food, paper, waste and water.

Judges’ comments:

“This was an easy and unanimous decision. Soneva Kiri really is making a huge difference through its ongoing work to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and in its commitment to fighting climate change. Indeed, they are making a positive impact in many areas, not least through reforestation and in reintroducing hornbills to Koh Kood.”


Runner-up: The Tongsai Bay

Winner: Zeavola Resort

The Zeavola Resort is directly on the beach of Phi Phi island, embedded into a jungle garden. If offers barefoot luxury.

Judges’ comments:

“Zeavola is taking sustainability seriously, with a range of initiatives which are measured and reported on. They have even gone as far as publishing a “Little Green Book”

Green Steps

Winner: Poppies Resort

A boutique hotel on the southern end of Chaweng Beach. They went plastic-free in February 2018. 

Judges’ comments:

“Poppies eschews plastic bottles and straws, and makes guests aware of this initiative even before they arrive. An excellent first step which will hopefully influence other organisations.”

How the winners are picked

Last June we asked Wanderlust readers to nominate the organisations they felt deserved recognition for their work across six categories: Marine, Nature and Heritage; Animal Welfare; Community-Based Tourism; Eco-Lodge/ Eco-Hotel; Hotel; and Green Steps.

The criteria for judging include the sustainability of the projects/organisations, their demonstrable successes, and the legacy benefits for both Thailand and international visitors.

The difficult task of picking the winners fell to the judging panel: Derek Moore (AITO); Claire Jenkinson (ABTA); Martin Symington (Travel Journalist); Julie Middleton (The Travel Foundation); Lyn Hughes (Editor-in-chief Wanderlust)

After much deliberation, the results were revealed at the World Travel Market in London in November 2019.