The charming village of Koh Klang south of Thailand is a relatively unspoiled hideaway that is working on improving the livelihoods of the locals via community based tourism.
Taking a traditional long-tailed boat through the mangroves from the Chao Fa pier, tourists can soak up the laid back country lifestyle of Koh Klang village which is inhabited by about 5,000 people. Tie-dying fabric, fishing and riding around the island on a personal tricycle are among the variety of activities on offer on at Koh Klang.
Sopha Koh Klang, 45, a community representative who supervises development of community based tourism in Koh Klang, said there are 15 communities in Krabi province which are under the support from the community based tourism project within Thailand’s tourism ministry.
Community based tourism involves local residents inviting tourists to visit their communities. The tourists receive accommodation while the residents are able to earn an income via tourist activities that take place within the community.
Sopha said tourists venturing to Koh Klong get the chance to see how local people live their lives in a way that is sustainable and community-friendly.
Paramatta Chuaykarn, an owner of Kidthung Cottage homestay on Koh Klang, told Post Property that community based tourism had assisted locals find employment in homestays, restaurants and elsewhere in the community.
“I expect that the local villagers can keep their way of life while tourism and investment continues to flow to this area,” he said.
Pansita Sasirawuth, a public relations executive from community based tourism group Local Alike which matches travelers with local communities and responsible tour operators, said the Koh Klang community was getting stronger as more and more locals were getting involved in tourism.
“Co-creation can be the answer from our experience because the traveler can help assist the community grow as well as create a positive impact for the establishment of enhanced tourism development practices,” she said. “It also helps locals manage their community in a sustainable way.”
Local Alike is currently undertaking tourism capacity building programs in seven communities around Thailand.
While community based tourism in gaining traction in Thailand, Cambodia is also no stranger to this sustainable tourism concept.
Bou Chan Serey, deputy director general of Cambodia’s tourism development and international cooperation, told Post Property that Cambodia started community based tourism and ecotourism many years ago to improve the living standards of locals.
One of the community-based ecotourism examples is Chambok, a community of nine rural villages where visitors can experience village life, and explore the area’s beautiful natural surroundings in Kampong Speu province.
Chan Serey said “The Ministry of Tourism and some independent organisations have organised community based tourism and ecotourism projects with 56 local communities recently.”
Associate Professor Chavanee Tongroach, who is also Thailand’s deputy Minister for Tourism and Sports and recently presided over the opening of the ASEAN Travel Journo Camp in Bangkok, encouraged the ASEAN region to work closely together to develop more community based tourism projects.
This reporter recently traveled to Thailand to attend the ASEAN Travel Journo Camp.