There are lots of ways visitors to Thailand can support responsible tourism. And as the country starts to bounce back from the Covid pandemic, responsible tourism is more important than ever. In recognition of this, the Responsible Thailand Awards highlight the individuals and organisations who are making a difference. One of those organisations is Meliá on Ko Samui, the winner of the hotel category in the Responsible Thailand Awards 2021.
Located on Choeng Mon Beach in Ko Samui, Meliá supports sustainable tourism and their efforts have been rewarded with certification from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The hotel has signed the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge and is committed to reducing plastic waste, supporting local culture and communities, and promoting sustainable travel in Thailand.
As the Responsible Thailand Award judges pointed out, “It’s all very well talking the talk, but this hotel is walking the walk too. They have a huge range of initiatives to work towards their goal of a plastic-free hotel and have a green committee which meets regularly. Guests are made aware of the initiatives, and an elephant mascot, Coco, educates children about the plight of rescue elephants.”
Supporting local communities
Meliá opened on Ko Samui in January 2020. Within a few months, the fallout from the Covid pandemic hit Samui. Tourism is a massive contributor to the island’s economy and the extended travel restrictions had a devastating impact on Ko Samui. Throughout these tough times, the hotel continued to support the local community. Staff at the resort funded packs containing essential items such as rice, noodles, and tinned food and distributed these to people in need on the island.
Meliá is also home to ‘The Gallery’, a not-for-profit social enterprise which supports local culture and directly contributes to the Samui economy. Situated in the resort’s lobby area, The Gallery sells a range of handmade and decorative products including handbags, wallets, ceramics, and wooden boats. Made by Thai artists and designers, all profits from the items goes towards supporting and preserving local culture and helping islanders in need.
Samui Elephant Haven
With visitor numbers to Thailand slashed during the pandemic, there has been a massive knock-on effect for elephant centres across Thailand. The upkeep of elephants isn’t cheap and with an average-sized pachyderm getting though around 10% of its body weight in food each day, large amounts of food need to be grown.
Samui Elephant Haven is one of the many ethical centres around Thailand who have been hard hit by the financial implications of Covid. To help the plight of the elephants, Meliá has provided land for a community farm. Located just a few hundred metres away from the resort in Choeng Mon, the 250 square metre farm helps to feed the elephants by growing banana trees, sweet grass and other fodder.
Samui Elephant Haven opened in 2018 as a rescue centre for elephants that had previously been working in the logging industry or at unethical and unregulated elephant camps. At Samui Elephant Haven, the animals are free to roam the 10-hectare sanctuary and interact naturally as they forage for plants and bathe in the special pools that have been built.
Meliá has an elephant mascot, Coco, who helps to educate guests about the plight of rescued elephants and encourages guests to visit and support Samui Elephant Haven. Coco also hosts educational activities about the elephants at the resort’s ‘Kidsdom’ children’s club .
Visit Ko Samui
Discover more ways to support responsible tourism on your next visit to Thailand:
You may also enjoy
Fan Club Thailand
Tourism Thailand (UK & Ireland)
We are here to help you experience the best of amazing Thailand. Bookmark our online magazine for ideas and tips for what to see and do in Thailand, and follow us on social media for even more travel inspiration.