Many people will always delight if they had a chance to look at the trendy statistic number which shows the impressive growth of tourist businesses in Asia in every recent year. Without realizing, tourism has brought a lot of good and bad things, the rich of natural resources and traditional cultures might already be sacrificed with the construction of 5 star hotels, luxury resorts, world class golf courses and tourist entertainment communities. The concept of “Ecotourism” is now spreading out widely in Asia, especially South East Asia, to provoke the prevention of these losses and urging to preserve the beauty of their natural and cultural heritage.
Despite its attractive and good-meaning philosophy, Ecotourism seems to be appropriated much in the same way as the word “Environmentally-friendly” travel during which tourists try their best to minimize environmental impact and ensure their spending and presence benefits the local community. This also implies that, ‘going green’ is not only related to the environment, but involves all areas of sustainability and social responsibility.
According to the International Tourism Partnership, achieving a green standard must include six key areas: environmental management, policy and framework, staff training and awareness, purchasing, people and communities and destination protection.
As travelers the world over realize that the responsibility to protect the environment is a shared one, they are adopting greener lifestyles and scrutinizing the hotels and destinations they choose to stay in. Here are the top recommendations for the “go green” hotels in Asia;
Transforming the site of an abandoned tin mine which was once described by the UN as a ‘toxic wasteland’ into the environmental showcase it is today proves just how powerful responsible tourism can be. Such is the legacy of the Banyan Tree group. Now as much of a wildlife sanctuary as it is a resort complex, the Banyan Tree Phuket is an inspiration to everyone. True champions of the principles of corporate social responsibility, guests are assured when they stay at Banyan Tree that part of their fees will be directed into conserving the environment and local community.
Designed to blend harmoniously with the environment, La Residence also possesses a strong commitment to sustainable tourism. Beyond their environmentally sound practices (which include treating water so that it can be released back into the river and keeping used oil for biofuel production) the hotel also donates regularly to local charities and invites guests to do the same. In particular, they support the Angkor Hospital for Children through the weekly screening of a video where guests have the opportunity to ask the hospital staff questions and can contribute either second-hand items or donate money to the cause.
The iconic thatched huts of the Evason Hua Hin Resort are not misleading in terms of their eco-friendly nature. Drawing on biodegradable products and adopting practices that conserve energy and minimize waste, the resort also supports several local initiatives such as the Mangrove Forest Conservation, the Kervorkian Foundation (dedicated to assisting HIV+ babies and children) as well as providing employment opportunities to disabled individuals and hosting its own organic vegetable farm.
There is no place on earth like Sumba Island. Here, the indigenous traditions and animist culture of the Sumbanese people remain completely in tact. And the resort has no intention of changing that. Located on 438 acres of tropical forest and rice terraces and surrounded by some of the world’s most pristine beaches, Nihiwatu is a place to go and immerse yourself in nature. The resort is strongly committed to conserving its native surrounds and improving the quality of life of the Sumbanese people.
Nestled in the tropical jungle of Thailand’s most Northern province, Anantara’s Golden Triangle resort also plays a significant role in elephant conservation. As part of The Royal Thai Government’s Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC), this project is aimed at protecting elephants and keeping them in an environment similar to the traditional mahout camps which supported the once-thriving logging industry. With unique programs for guests that involve mahout training as well as elephant trekking and forest living skills, the conservation experience is a truly interactive one.
As part of the esteemed Oberoi Resorts and Hotels, this beautifully designed luxury resort is within 600 metres of the majestic Taj Mahal. But besides its unique architectural and landscape design, the Amar Vilas also upholds a commitment to philanthropic activities (including education and support for the mentally and physically challenged) in addition to conserving the local environment and cultural heritage.
Located in the forest woodlands on the side of Popa mountain, this resort has been sensitively designed to suit its surroundings. Guests are enclosed in the vibrant, yet peaceful terrain and there is ample opportunity to hike and visit the breathtaking Mt. Popa shrine. Using biodegradable products and adopting their own recycling practices to avoid environmental damage, this small resort can bring you back to nature in its purest form.
Just as all the Six Senses properties do, this resort has a comprehensive policy on its environmental and social responsibilities. Suneva Fushi in particular supports a myriad of Maldivian community initiatives including tree planting on Eydafushi Island, hosting eye camps where locals get free treatment from ophthalmologists, sponsoring the Maldivian Cultural Centre and many more.
True to its name and slogan, this resort literally is a sanctuary for those who “don’t like big hotels” but have a passion for nature. The Tanjung Sanctuary Hotel does not list its specific policies on the environment, the resort’s design and practices uphold the ideals of sustainable tourism. Importantly, they provide a unique insight into the local flora and fauna with specially designed educational tours for guests.
These two resorts are in close proximity to each other and both recently achieved Green Globe certified status. Alila Ubud was awarded best practice results in waste recycling, managing to recycle 80% of its water consumption. Alila Manggis excelled in the reduction of water and electricity consumption as well as community contribution by employing 85% of its staff from within 20km of the resort site.
Remember that it is all our responsibilities to preserve the world’s natural resources as much as we want to preserve fresh air for our pure breathing. Travel responsibly under the concept of “Ecotourism” or alike must always come together with or even before the casual joys and entertainments we leave behind on the course of our vacation trips.