Thailand is stepping up efforts to be more environmentally sustainable. The government is determined to end the one-time use of plastic bags by 2021. Consequently, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau launched the “Meet Sustainable” incentive scheme.
hailand ranks among the top ten of countries worldwide with the most mismanaged plastic wastes, together with Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Their waste winds up in the ocean. The government of Thailand is determined to end the one-time use of plastic bags by 1 January 2021 and its Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working on ways to make the ban on singleuse plastic bags a legal requirement. This will result in a significant 30% reduction in the billions of bags handed out to consumers annually. Major retailers such as the CP Group which owns 7-Eleven convenient stores, Central and The Mall Group have already put in place strategies to reduce the use of plastic bags by imposing a “No Plastic Day” policy every week.
The meetings industry in Thailand is no exception: while the economic benefits from the MICE industry help the country’s overall GDP performance, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will work with companies and organizations to cocreate successful solutions to mainstream sustainability efforts on a regional scale. “There are plans to launch facial recognition facilities at the admission gates in their future convention venues, which will help reduce the use of papers and plastics,” Nichapa Yoswee said. The Senior Vice President Business at TCEB added: “However, it is not only the venues that can implement such measure but also the events or convention organizers at the registration points. Using recyclable wristbands is one solution that could address this issue.”
Furthermore, she announced that TCEB is not only adding sustainability practices, but will provide incentives to organizers if they can prove that they can run events that are carbon neutral. Special assistance will also be extended to organizers who support sustainability in general. The “Meet Sustainable” incentive scheme rewards events with 50 delegates staying for a minimum of three nights and implementing at least two out of the seven elements of sustainability practice such as offering reusable badges, donating food, and providing souvenirs produced by the local community.
While the cities Bangkok and Pattaya remained to be the top destinations for meetings, incentives and events of choice, TCEB is continually promoting their alternative destinations such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai in the north, Rayong in the east, Phuket and Samui Island in the south. “While we enjoy great success in our major cities, we’re keen to promote alternative locations that are not as widely known to global business event planners,” Nichapa Yoswee said. She thinks of “off the beaten track” destinations such as luxury spas. She added: “Thailand is ready to redefine business events with new ideas and to keep front-of-mind planners’ requirements to maximize return on investment and use of resources.”
To introduce TCEB’s approach to sustainability and to showcase the new strength of Bangkok and Hua Hin’s dual destination dynamism, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau organized an international media fam trip from 29 August to 1 September 2019. Hua Hin, a seaside resort city southwest of Bangkok, has more than ten four-star and five-star hotels as well as numerous attractions, including sea salt spa treatments, palm sugar production, and herbal treatment products – all of them part the comprehensive reforestation program. Just in June this year, the municipality government of Hua Hin and Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas joined forces to boost Hua Hin’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the national government's development program.
The Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas built a sculpted sea creature-cum-trash-bin named POP, short for "Plastic Only, Please”, to raise awareness of the scourge of plastic waste.
PHOTO: CENTARA GRAND BEACH RESORT AND VILLAS
The Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas, opened in the early 1920s, has transformed the sleepy fishing village of Hua Hin into Thailand’s first beach resort. It is one of the top five international hotel brands in Thailand with the largest green space within its premises. The property built a sculpted sea creature-cum-trash-bin named POP, short for “Plastic Only, Please”, installed on 1 June along the iconic resort’s beachfront to raise awareness of the scourge of plastic waste. Each time the plastic-hungry sea creature is filled up with collected plastic trash, the hotel’s waste management team removes POP to empty and weigh the contents. The staff then prepares the trash for sorting and delivery to local recycling facilities.
Thanks to the results achieved during the 50-day visit of this larger-than-life, fish-shaped trash can, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin Director of Quality Assurance Duenphen Pengkasem led the effort to extend the initiative and keep the POP display. These efforts proved successful owing to the great support of Mayor Nopporn Wuthikul and his administrative team, which has been actively promoting environmental awareness in the community and supporting greater responsibility and care for the environment at this resort town.
Rather than creating more plastic garbage that pollutes the environment and adds to the burden of nearby landfills, the sea creatures are a front-line waste management filter diverting reusable plastic materials to be recycled into new products.
Nichapa Yoswee: “Thailand is ready to redefine business events with new ideas.“
Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa in 2018 won the G-Green (Silver) Award for adopting outstanding environmental-friendly practices in a program organized by Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Some of the key sustainability practices include the reduction of non-recyclable plastics – replacing plastic straws with paper-made versions. The hotel now uses bamboo wooden food boxes, glasses, and providing fresh fruits to promote healthier living. More than that, measures are in place to address more effective food waste management to minimize leftovers.
Ingredients are sourced from local farmers, fishermen and small-scale manufacturers who meet defined standards and are located less than 100 km away from the resort. These are vegetable plantations in Pranburi, organic chicken farms in Ratchaburi and local beef and lamb farmers in Pakchong. Where possible, cheeses such as Mozzarella, Ricotta and Mascarpone are also sourced from local producers. An information signage system is on display to inform all guests about this policy. Furthermore, Ms Rungkamol Kamolnithi, Cluster Senior MarCom & PR Manager, said that for their meetings and incentive programs, clients are encouraged to hold events either at their gardens or at the white sand beachfront area. These venues would only require minimal decorations, less use consumption of electricity and zero-use of air conditioning. They also have a team that cleans the beachfront area using recycled water for all grounds and gardens.
Further down the south of Thailand, the Anurak Community Lodge, located about two hours and 30 minutes away from Phuket International Airport, is another good example of how rural communities can participate in achieving environmental sustainability and development. The venue has just won the global 2019 SKAL Sustainable Tourism Award in the Rural Accommodation category. The award was presented during the opening ceremony of the 80th SKAL World Congress held on board the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas cruise ship on 15 September 2019. The judges evaluated all entries based on excellence in sustainability criteria, such as nature preservation, animal welfare, carbon offsetting, climate change mitigation, energy and water saving, cultural preservation, local community involvement, health and safety for employees and guests, local employment, training and economic viability.