Thailand: Biodiversity and Tourism Development in the Phang Nga Province

The UNWTO Consulting Unit’s project in Thailand focused on the Phang Nga Province, an area that experienced considerable problems with the re-establishment of tourism in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. Even before the tsunami, the province of Phang Nga had the vision to become a leading destination for ecotourism. The tsunami intensified the need to develop tourism in a sustainable manner, providing benefits to local communities at the same time protecting nature with its crucial ecosystem services. The project area in Phang Nga was divided into two local sites: the island of Koh Khao and Tai Muang/Lam Kaen.

The project ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism Development in the Province of Phang Nga’ was implemented by UNWTO with support from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS), Thailand, together with UNWTO, for the period February 2007 to December 2009. The overall goal of the project was to strengthen sustainable tourism in the two model sites as well as to transfer lessons learnt to other sites in Phang Nga and along the Andaman coast.

Summary of main project outcomes achieved:

  • Participatory development of two tourism management plans in cooperation with the Local Working Groups (LWG)for the destinations Koh Kho Khao and Tai Muang/Lam Kaen and approval of these plans by the local population
  • Development of ten biodiversity-related tourism products, including launching of national and international marketing
  • Planning support for two locally-managed destination management organisations (DMOs)
  • Enhancement of level of knowledge and acceptance regarding sustainable tourism development among the target groups
  • Awareness raising among provincial and local governmental bodies for the importance of biological diversity as natural asset for tourism
  • Linking of the project with other project activities of, inter alia, GTZ, Tour Operators Initiative (TOI) and WWF
  • Launch of a project aiming at the improvement of energy efficiency in hotels on the island of Kho Khao, financed by the international climate initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment

Supported with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety