BANGKOK: The TAT, together with the Expedia Group and the UNESCO, are launching a global sustainable environment initiative, the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge, to reduce single-use plastic whilst promoting local cultural and community activities in Thailand.

The pledge renews an existing MOU agreement between TAT and Expedia that began in September 2018 and saw both parties working closely to attract international tourists to emerging secondary destinations; such as, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. This resulted in a 25% annual increase in demand for accommodation in Chiang Rai, especially from international travelers to four- and five-star hotels at a 1.5-times higher level of spending than Thai domestic travelers.

K. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and the South Pacific, said, “This strategic tripartite agreement comes at an opportune time when TAT will focus on building confidence for Thailand’s tourism brand by promoting responsible tourism. It ensures that Thailand’s tourism sector will maintain its strong economic growth, as TAT prioritizes environmental sustainability and cultural vibrancy that positions Thailand as a sustainable destination in accordance with the TAT’s vision.”

The agreement also puts sustainability at the heart of everything TAT does as it gears up to mark its 60th anniversary in 2020.

K. Chattan said, “This cooperation with leading global tourism partners; such as, the Expedia Group and renowned organization like UNESCO enables TAT to encourage tourism stakeholders to accelerate sustainable tourism development nationwide.

“TAT is determined to protect and conserve the environment as part of our on-going ‘Lot Lok Luea’ (Reduce Plastic Waste) project, which invites the general public and the travel industry to stop using single-use plastic and opt to use alternative natural materials. This not only protects the environment, but also promotes the use of organic materials that save the Earth and adds value to local resources.”

Under the Pledge, all parties are committed to supporting the reduction and elimination of single-use plastic while also promoting local culture and community activities in Thailand.

Mr. Peter Debrine, Senior Project Officer, Sustainable Tourism World Heritage Centre Culture Sector for UNESCO predicted the Pledge would resonate with anyone who wants to help reduce plastic waste.

“Last year alone, 1.4 billion people traveled worldwide, so the pledge is a tool to turn ‘words’ into ‘actions’. The cooperation between Expedia and TAT is an important step in helping to reduce tourism waste, and enhance the cultural role on sustainable tourism development, which is beneficial to the world and community as it becomes the first step towards global action,” Mr. Peter said.

According to Expedia, the pledge demonstrates its commitment to promoting sustainable tourism and enhancing environmental consciousness among partners across the travel industry.

“Expedia is honored to have the opportunity to cooperate with two leading global organizations on tourism and sustainability; such as, TAT and UNESCO. Everyone has a role to play in promoting sustainable tourism to help preserve beautiful attractions worldwide,” Mr. Jean-Philippe Monod, Vice-President Government and Corporate Affairs of Expedia Group concluded.