Railay Sustainable Tourism Project

Tourist flock to Railay pristine beaches

Tourist flock to Railay pristine beaches

By Lesley Chittayanon

A recent event in Krabi showcased efforts made by businesses and communities on the Phranang – Railay Penninusla to promote and develop sustainable tourism in the area.

The ‘Phranang - Railay Sustainable Tourism Development Project’ took place at Rayavadee Resort on March 9 – 10, with an aim to promote conservation and protection of the local surroundings and culture from the detrimental effects of tourism. The parties involved hope to develop a model which can be used throughout the country.

Having witnessed Phuket’s blunders in the past, Krabi is aware of the urgency of protecting its rich heritage, unique culture and profound natural beauty from mismanaged tourism.

Rayavadee Resort has been at the forefront of efforts to develop and promote sustainable tourism on the Phranang – Railay peninsula. The five star luxury resort occupies 26 acres of tropical gardens set against an impressive backdrop of precipitous cliffs and the azure waters of the Andaman Sea. The resort sets a fantastic example by recycling both waste water and garbage.

Rayavadee’s chief designer, Khun Garnchai, led a team of journalists around the site to point out the various systems the resort has designed and installed. He explained: “The water recycling system ensures that waste water does not contaminate the sea. The recycled water is used for flushing toilets and watering the plants, which reduces the resort’s overall water usage.”

The resort also recycles waste materials from the kitchen and garden. Useful components of waste, such as tree cuttings and fruit trimmings, are separated and stored to produce an organic fertilizer.

This system addresses the urgent need to convert ever-rising consumption gradients into cycles, where the end product of one process becomes a useful component in another. By recycling rubbish, Rayavadee not only reduces the amount of rubbish disposed, but creates a useful fertiliser. For more on the Krabi coast.

The resort’s annual mangrove planting involves many members of the local community, including schoolchildren and government representatives, as well as visitors. Anchoring new plant life in this ecosystem is an important and effective way of repairing the damage caused by the ever-increasing levels of tourism. Aside from this natural restoration, the planting cultivates an environmental consciousness in the community.

The anchors of longtail boats can damage the reefs

The anchors of longtail boats can damage the reefs

On the second day of the event, Rayavadee presented buoys to the mayor of Krabi. By donating floating buoys, the resort also hopes to prevent further damage to the sea bed due to longtail anchors. The buoys mean boats will be anchored in a designated area, so safety levels will also be increased and the beach will have a more tidy appearance.

A detailed exhibition on Phranang Beach, explained the main objectives of the programme and the benefits to the community. Sustainable tourism has many social, economic and environmental benefits, and the local community has become increasingly aware of its importance.

A signing board for tourists provided visitors an opportunity to comment on the area and the initiative. The multitude of positive comments illustrated the growing demand for responsible ecotourism. Many visitors expressed their sincere hope for the programme’s success and left an email address in order to receive future updates.

As tourism in Thailand is so reliant on the country’s thriving nature and vibrant culture, sustainable ecotourism needs to be brought to the attention of the masses.

There are few places in the world that combine an array of natural habitats and ecosystems to form the unique land and marine environment of Krabi. Mangroves, beaches, islands, forests, karst caves and shallow reefs create a diverse landscape.

The local culture and heritage is also unique, with a myriad of cultures residing in the area. And unlike many places in the world, the various cultures intermingle and live side by side in harmony, with respect for each other’s beliefs and no hostility.

The Railay Sustainable Tourism Development Project aims to protect Railay’s many natural treasures, as well as maintaining the indigenous culture of the local communities. However, sustainable tourism is an ongoing process and not a final goal; progress requires cooperation of the local community, the government and travellers.

Ultimately, the organisers of this recent event in Railay hope to create a model that will ensure survival of the natural environment; the livelihood of the local community; and the dreams of those who hope to experience its exceptional beauty. For more on Railay beach.

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