Going green is related not only to the environment, but also involves all areas of sustainability and social responsibility. Achieving a green standard, as defined by the International Tourism Partnership, includes six key areas: environmental management, policy and framework, staff training and awareness, purchasing, people and communities and destination protection.
In the "Top 10 Green Hotels in Asia", recently released by agoda.com, three properties in Thailand are among the awardees.
Banyan Tree Phuket, Thailand (http://www.banyantree.phuket.com). Transforming the site of an abandoned tin mine which was once described by the UN as a "toxic wasteland" into the environmental showcase it is today proves just how powerful responsible tourism can be. Now as much of a wildlife sanctuary as it is a resort complex, the Banyan Tree Phuket is an inspiration to everyone. True champions of the principles of corporate social responsibility, guests are assured when they stay at Banyan Tree that part of their fees will be directed into conserving the environment and local community.
Evason Hua Hin Resort and Six Senses Spa, Thailand (http://www.sixsenses.com). Drawing on biodegradable products and adopting practices that conserve energy and minimise waste, the resort also supports several local initiatives such as the Mangrove Forest Conservation, the Kervorkian Foundation that is dedicated to assisting HIV-positive babies and children as well as providing employment opportunities to disabled individuals and hosting its own organic vegetable farm.
Anantara Resort and Spa Golden Triangle (goldentriangle.anantara.com). The hotel plays a significant role in elephant conservation. As part of the government's Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, this project is aimed at protecting elephants and keeping them in an environment similar to the traditional mahout camps which supported the once-thriving logging industry. With unique programmes for guests that involve mahout training as well as elephant trekking and forest living skills, the conservation experience is a truly interactive one.
The other award winners are
Amar Vilas Agra, India (http://www.oberoiamarvilas.com); Popa Mountain Resort, Bagan, Myanmar (http://www.myanmartourex.com/myanmar - hotels/popa - mountain - resort - hotel.html; La Residence d'Angkor,
Siem Reap, Cambodia (http://www.residencedangkor.com); Suneva Fushi Resort and Six Senses Spa, Maldives (http://www.six-senses.com/soneva-fushi); Tanjung Sanctuary Hotel, Langkawi, Malaysia (http://www.tanjung-sanctuary-langkawi.com); Nihiwatu, Sumba Island, Indonesia (http://www.nihiwatu.com); Alila Ubud and Manggis Resorts, Bali, Indonesia (http://www.alilahotels.com/manggis).
Laos' new cultural draw
The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang is a new cultural attraction for tourists visiting the former Lao capital.
Opening last month, the private museum is the first centre in town dedicated to preservation and study of traditional Lao art and culture.
The aim is to help visitors and locals understand and value the changing lifestyles of Laos' many ethnic groups. The museum displays many items including clothes, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts with captions in English and Lao languages.
There is also a gift shop selling handicraft made by ethnic communities. It opens 9am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday. The entrance fee is US$2.20 for foreigners and free for locals.
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