Ok, so I decided to write a blog something I never thought I would do as it’s not really me, but I guess time calls for change. Due to my recent ‘relocation’ to Northern Thailand I figured it’s the best way to keep friends and family updated on what I’m doing out here, instead of regurgitating the same thing in emails and also to spread the news about what I’m trying to do out here. So…… what exactly am I doing out here?
Well I’m not just here basking in the sun and enjoying the food, I’m here trying to set up a sustainable tourism venture. OK so what exactly does that mean? Well it means that I’m trying to set up a travel company that practices sustainable tourism principles
[*]Preserving the natural environment, culture of indigenous people, their heritage and way of life.
[*]Ensuring the economic benefits of tourism go directly to local people
[*]Allowing tourism to add value to local communities through cultural and knowledge exchange
[*]Allowing tourism to contribute to sustainable development, so communities can become self sufficient
[*]Minimising the negative impacts of tourism
[*]Practicing responsible tourism
[*]Practicing community based tourism. This means empowering communities so that they can manage their own projects. We are engaged in the following community based sustainable development projects
[*]A local youth tour guide training program
[*]Income generation for hilltribe families via homestays and handicrafts
[*]Recruiting foreign volunteers for hilltribe schools
Our sustainable tourism venture (which we have yet to find a name for) offers homestays and guided trips around Mae Hong Son. ‘We’ are about many things. ‘We’ are about paying a fair price to workers and ensuring everybody gets a fair cut. ‘We’ are about trying to prepare the local communities for tourism and how to utilize it to their advantage and spread the benefits equally. ‘We’ are about helping local communities lift themselves out of poverty by making a livelihood, its cliché but its true of what we’re doing out here “teach a fisherman how to fish for a day and he feeds himself for life”.
Having experienced the dark side of the tourism industry in Chiang Mai, Pat (my partner in crime for this venture) wanted to create a project that symbolised the opposite of this. So far, I think we’re on the right track.