How Koh Lanta Became Thailand’s Most Sustainable Tourism Destination

As travelers become more and more caring towards the environment, sustainable tourism has been the buzzword in recent years.

Smart travelers all over the world are now realizing the importance of minimising the negative impact of travel on the environment, which is what sustainable tourism is all about. Even more so, we now understand that our travel activities should benefit the communities and places that we go to, making it possible for other travelers to enjoy these same destinations in the years to come.

One such destination that strongly supports this environmentally-conscious principle is Koh Lanta in Thailand. In response to the growing threat of environmental degradation — both on land and at sea — organisations and individuals are fighting back to ensure Koh Lanta keeps its paradisal appeal for future generations.

aerial view of Koh Lanta National Park
Koh Haa is one of the wonders of Koh Lanta National Park

If you are planning on travelling from Singapore to Thailand, check out these sustainable tourism activities you are bound to enjoy at Koh Lanta. You’ll surely want to find out how to get to Koh Lanta from Singapore when you’re through reading!

Marine Conservation Efforts

Logo of Pimalai Resort in Koh Lanta Thailand

With its deeply-rooted relationship with the island and prime location on legendary Kantiang Beach, Pimalai Resort & Spa conducts clownfish release and coral propagation programmes. The activities are centred on Koh Lanta beaches — around idyllic offshore islands of Koh Haa and Koh Rok. In Association with the Scubafish Dive Centre and Lanta Diver, they help move these living rocks to make a base for the newly propagated corals in the nursery. Once developed, the corals are then relocated and the process begins again, according to Lanta Diver’s Naiyana Leethongdee.

Kantiang Beach Cleanup

Koh Lanta’s mangrove forests and natural landscapes
Koh Lanta’s mangrove forests and natural landscapes

Back on dry land, guests are also invited to join the Pimalai team, local residents and fellow business owners on their monthly cleanup of one of the Koh Lanta beaches: Kantiang Beach. To further ensure that the island’s star attractions remain pristine, the “Community Trash Free Days” take place on the second Wednesday of each month.

Meanwhile, public cleanups extend beyond the beach, to the island’s mangroves. Organised boat tours help generate income and also fund the preservation of this rich ecosystem, which is home to the island’s unique flora and fauna.

Recycled Handicraft Products at Koh Lanta’s Old Town

Much of the rubbish recovered from these areas are put to good use. One organisation, in particular, recycles non-biodegradable materials into intricate handicraft products such as bags and bracelets. In addition to the standalone store located in Koh Lanta’s Old Town, the items are available to buy at Pimalai.

“My friends and I got the idea to set up this store after seeing how much plastic waste there is on Koh Lanta,” explains eco-entrepreneur Aumpa Arthan.

They then came up with the idea to recycle used milk cartons, plastic bottles and rice sacks into new products. The recycled products have received great feedback from the tourists who showed their support in buying many of these handicrafts.

Koh Lanta and the Road to Zero-Waste

Pimalai in Thailand is set in 100 acres of natural jungle
Pimalai is set in 100 acres of natural jungle

“It feels like there’s more environmentally-friendly thinking across the island than ever before,” says Anurat Tiyaphorn, owner of Pimalai Resort & Spa, Koh Lanta’s first five-star resort. In line with this, the company encourages visitors to join them on the propagation dives and learn more about how to conserve the island’s aquaculture.

Clearly, socially-responsible initiatives are manifold in Koh Lanta beaches across the island. Pimalai, which last year became the first property on Koh Lanta to receive the coveted Green Globe certification, runs educational programmes as part of its Rak Lanta (Love Lanta) project that advises local communities, small business owners and schools on how to effectively segregate and recycle non-compostable materials, as well as providing waste bins and garbage storage facilities around the Kantiang Beach community.

With this aim of reducing island-wide waste to zero, Pimalai has also set itself a series of ambitious five-year environmental targets. These practical onsite measures include reducing electricity consumption by 15%, daily water use by 10%, carbon footprint by 10%, and waste by 5%.

To celebrate the achievements of this unique culture of sustainable practices and cultural preservation, Pimalai recently produced a documentary short capturing the places, personalities and organisations that are putting Koh Lanta’s sustainability credentials in the spotlight. It is available to watch here: Facebook and Instagram.