Tourism for Good

November 21, 2016

by Thorsaeng Chuangchote

Thailand is famous for its rich culture, breathtaking scenery and mouth-watering food. There is no shortage of beautiful tourist destinations all over the country. However, residents of Khlong Khon, a fishing village in Samut Songkhram province, took a different approach to boost tourism while also preserving their natural resources and traditional way of living.

The Khlong Khon area is forested with mangroves, small tropical trees that grow on the edges of sea and land. Due to the growing demand of seafood in the past two decades, the forests were cleared to make way for shrimp farms. At the time, it was a highly profitable business that attracted companies from all over the country, especially from Bangkok. As a result, various forms of marine life – fish, shrimp, shellfish, and crabs – that were the main source of livelihood for villagers gradually disappeared, and the canals were polluted. Residents who sold their land for the farms and depleted their earnings suffered from financial burdens and lack of career advancement. This called for an urgent fix to the deteriorating biodiversity in the area that resulted from the unbalance of exploiting the nature and striving for the community’s economic growth.

Khlong Khon is situated on the route from Bangkok to Hua Hin, a popular seaside town that Thai people love to visit for a weekend. Khlong Khon Conservative Tourism Society capitalized on this opportunity and created a tourism initiative to encourage passing tourists to stop and volunteer to restore their mangrove forests. As part of our inclusion initiative, FleishmanHillard’s Bangkok office joined in on this rewarding and enjoyable volunteering opportunity.

The team left the big city of Bangkok and headed to the humble fishing village, about an hour and a half away by car. The activity leader shared a touching story of how this idea came to life and shared anecdotes of HRH Princess Sirindhorn, who personally joined the activity on site, thus helping promote the village’s cause throughout the nation.

Everyone in the fishing village shares responsibilities in the volunteer program. The seniors grow and pack the mangrove seeds for planting, the men navigate the forests by boat, the women prepare lunch for volunteers, and the young adults who previously left the village to find jobs in the city, returned home to take part in improving the community.

Our team was able to learn firsthand about the fisherman’s way of life, observe the biodiversity of the mangrove forests, taste local produce while sitting on a floating bamboo bungalow above the sea, plant mangrove trees, feed crab-eating macaques, and mud-ski. The activities designed by Khlong Khon Conservative Tourism Society combine all aspects of what Thailand tourism is famous for –a highly unique and intriguing experience. It allows visitors enjoy the taste of the local area and contribute to the environmental conservation.