Friday, April 25, 2014

The People

Sandy beaches once devastated by a tsunami are now beautiful and full of people. Beaches are full of tourists enjoying the beautiful waves and amazing view forgetting their problems and the tsunami that had destroyed the very beach they sit. T-shirt shops and restaurants are full of customers and the owners and worker happy with the success. Thai men and women working to make items to sell in local shops and local restaurants creating dishes that would make anybody's mouth water. Adventures are endless and cameras are everywhere. It is almost hard to believe that a tsunami ten years ago made many of these pleasures almost disappear. In that time Thailand's tourism industry had practically made full recovery. Other than the broken hearts from the lives lost, Thailand is back on its feet. Travel daily news reports that Thailand tourism was at a record breaking high in 2013 and reports a possible increase in tourism in 2014.

When you look at the before and after images and stories of the Thailand tourism industry recovery, you can't help but think of the efforts made by the people of Thailand. Their lives were ruined; many of their homes were gone, there businesses in destroyed and they were left to grieve for loved ones never to return. Yet they have found a way to move on and make the best of what they have. They rebuilt and hoped that tourist would come to help them. Yes, it is up to us, tourists, to help the recovery, but there would be nothing to visit, to see, to purchase, eat and experiences to enjoy if it weren't for the Thai people rising above it all and making it possible for us to return to Thailand.

What you can do

As we have learned Thailand's tourism industry significantly contributes to Thailand's economy. Yet after a natural disaster the majority of tourists avoid the countries affected by the disaster. This results in a decrease in revenue which affects the people and the country's economy. Yes, there are many safety concerns and it may not the best idea to pack your bags and head to ground zero of a disaster. But do we stay away too long? After the cleanup is finished and the rebuilding is on its way why are tourists still avoiding these destinations? Is it because they don't know that it is safe to return? Do they think they will miss out on many of the comforts other places will be able to provide to them? Once a disaster hit, are tourist too afraid to return in fear that the same tragedy will happen while they are on their vacation? Here are some ways you can still support the local economy of disaster affected areas like Thailand after the tsunami in 2004.

1. Do your research. Research hotels and tourist destinations to find places that have been least affected by the disaster. Many times hotels reservations are sold at a discount hoping to attract potential tourists.

2. Look for a local booking agency. It may be easier to book through an travel agency, however, your purpose is to support the local economy of your destination, so make sure the booking agency is located in the country you are planning to visit and are focused on keeping the revenue in that area.

3. Don't rubberneck. After some natural disasters the area is not safe for a while and authorities have had to turn them away. Make sure you know that the area is safe so that you do not cause unnecessary chaos.

4. Be flexible and have a backup plan. You may have done a lot of research and planned the trip perfectly, but you may not know your destination is like until you actually get there. You may not be able to get to some of the places you hoped to see. Be familiar with other hotels and routes just in case they are less than what was advertised.

5. Be aware of the warning systems. After the tsunami in Thailand, warning systems have been put in place to ensure enough warning for the people of Thailand. There are apps and other resources to help you know that if it does happen while you are on vacation you have enough time to get to safety.

6. Remember why you are there. You may be visiting to have an experience of a life time but you also are there to support people affected by the disaster. Remember to buy from the local people, places dedicated to helping the local people and Fair Trade.

Luckily, through a slow process Thailand has had the opportunity to recover from the 2004 tsunami. This brings one to think, could the tourism industry have the opportunity to recover faster had people decided not to avoid this destination even though it was safe to return?

Friday, February 28, 2014

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) "contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers". This includes fair prices, fair working conditions, helping the environment and helping the communities of tourist areas. Thailand has its own problems with Fair Trade. There are many groups trying to help. One organization that is committed to Fair Trade is The Family Tree founded by Premruethai, a Thailand native and Peter, born in England who later found his love for the Thai people. The Family Tree is shop located in Thailand that sells crafts made by the people of Hua Hin, Thailand. The Family Tree was started to help teach women the skills of cutting, sewing, and dying Thai silk bags and clothing that would also create some income for their poor families; but it didn't stop there. As the children of these women grew older, they also needed some way to contribute. This is when Peter and Premruethai decided to open their own shop to support many different communities, groups and causes around Thailand. This allowed people of the Thai community to create crafts from their own culture and helping future generations. They also plant trees to help replenish the natural resources of Thailand.

As a part of Fair Trade, the Family Tree guarantees a fair price for the creator of the product along with fair working conditions and works in partnership with WFTO. These handmade arts and crafts made by local artists and community groups consist of over 75% of their products. These products contribute to preserving the Thai culture, arts and family businesses.

The Family Tree is involved in helping the environment. They have committed to plant one tree is for every 1000 Baht spent at the Family Tree. This effort has brought in more than $3000 US dollars in donations between the years 2011-2013. They have been able to raise money for a solar powered pump that will irrigate many of the trees they have planted.

The Family Tree is a company that has contributed a lot to the Thai community and tourism. Visit their website and see what they have to offer and maybe you can find ways that you can help Fair Trade tourism wherever you travel.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thailand has many beautiful adventures to offer; yet this tourist destination is behind in ecotourism awareness. Many endangered animals dwell in Thailand and there is still country wide destruction of natural resources and both have seen no relief. With so many things to see and experience, how can we fulfill all desired adventures without causing harm to this beautiful country. Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA) is an organization that "shows a concern for environment, culture, tradition and sustainable interest of this planet earth." This organization provides an almost endless list of adventures like bike tours that offer the ability to see the sites at you own pace; kayaking, rafting and canoeing that will not disturb the wildlife while allowing you to take in the beauty of the water and surrounding wildlife. This organization also provides options for eco-friendly lodging that include camping, homestays, hotels, small resorts and "eco lodges". Their mission is to provide an eco friendly activities and adventures that conserve natural attractions and educate and train the public in sustaining eco friendly activities. They also encourage their members to stay responsible tourists by avoiding or minimizing activities that might damage the cultural and natural environment as well as promoting positive impact of the local communities. They also encourage their members to organize any activity in a way that can educate tourists about the environment and local culture. They have four locations in Thailand that include Koh Chang, Pattaya, Krabi and Kanchanburi. Please visit their website and see what they have to offer.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The boom of Thailand tourism began in the 1960s when Thailand became a place of rest and recuperation for the soldiers during the Vietnam War (MMH, 2012). Since then, Thailand tourism industry has grown rapidly into a large part of Thailand's economic growth. On December 26, 2004, the day traditionally known as Boxing Day, Thailand was hit by a devastating tsunami that killed over 150,000 people (Fox News, 2005). Those who survived where left without friends, families and many had their business, their livelihood, destroyed. Fishermen and workers with smaller shops were affected. Many had merchandise, equipment and/or buildings damaged or completely washed away (Rigg, 2005). Immediately after the tsunami, there was a 90% drop in hotel reservations and approximately 100,000 people working in the tourism industry in Thailand lost their jobs (International Labor Organization , 2005). "'Even though we can quickly rebuild hotels, it will take some time to draw back tourists to the affected areas,' said Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra while touring the disaster area..." (Shadra).

Work Cited

After the tsunami In Thailand, the tourist industry fights back. (2005, April 11). Retrieved January 9, 2014, from International Labor Organization website:

MMH Master Class in Bangkok. (2012, February 12). Tourism industry in Thailand [Blog post]. Retrieved from MMH in Asia Master Class in Bangkok website:

Rigg, J., Law, L., Tan-Mullins, M., & Grundy-Warr, C. (2005). The Indian Ocean tsunami:
socio-economic impacts in Thailand. Geographical Journal, 171(4), 374-379.

Sharda Prashad Toronto, S. (n.d). Tourism industry crippled. Toronto Star (Canada).

Thai Predicted Tsunami; No One Listened. (2005). Retrieved January 10, 2014, from Fox News website:

Thailand's tsunami-hit tourism. (2005, March 24). Retrieved January 9, 2014, from BBC News website:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I am Rachel, I love to run, bike and teach group exercise classes and I am most happy when I am able to be outside. I love to travel and see the different places the world has to offer. When people ask me the question, "If you could go anywhere in the world..." I want to answer "Anywhere in the world!" I feel that even the hottest desert or the coldest iceberg has something wonderful to offer. I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the United State and have ventured into Mexico a couple times. I love the beach, I love the ocean and I love how the waves feel as they brush across my feet. I am fascinated by the formation of every wave. As I watch the waves I sometimes feel that my thoughts turn to the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand on December 26, 2004. I think about the people losing their businesses, their livelihoods, and most important, their love ones. How can I help? How can I still enjoy the beauty of a country and help the local economy after a natural disaster? How can I help these countries so that they can obtain the needed resources to recover and develop ways to prepare for the possibility of another disaster?