Guests checking in at the luxury beachfront resort of Banyan Tree Krabi are reducing their carbon footprint on southern Thailand’s marine environment from the moment they arrive. Instead of the usual hotel “welcome pack”, visitors are presented with a novel tote bag that was created by local artisans using upcycled waste washed up on local beaches.
“There’s a fine difference between recycling and upcycling,” explained the hotel’s Sustainability Manager Thepsuda Loyjiw. “Recycling is when we save materials such as glass and plastic for general reuse; while upcycling is the art of taking waste products and reinventing them as something else.”
The “Souvenirs from the Sea” project is the brainchild of a local vendor who scours the shores around Krabi each morning, picking up debris and, with a keen artistic eye, selecting those items that can be cleaned, dried, and modified into safe, colourful, eco-friendly souvenirs for tourists. Her partnership with Banyan Tree Krabi is proving to be a win-win situation for everyone.
“Guests invariably do a double-take when they receive the pouch with its fish and sea motifs,” said Tipwimon Rattanawongwan, a marine scientist who is the new Sustainability Coordinator at the resort. “But this immediately gives their Banyan Tree Host an opportunity to explain about our sustainability programs and eco-friendly policies. Our guests feel they are doing their bit; that they too are invested in the protection and conservation of the local environment.”
The project comes at a time when southern Thailand’s coastal environment is under the spotlight. Several islands and beaches have been closed in recent years due to the impact of tourism on coral and marine life, most notably Maya Bay where the Hollywood movie The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed. In recent years, a series of laws has been passed to protect Thailand’s famed sapphire seas and palm-fringed beaches, including bans on smoking, the feeding of marine life, wastewater dumping, fishing or anchoring on coral reefs, and new seafront construction at several popular beach destinations.
Banyan Tree Krabi’s recent sustainability initiatives include an Earth Day beach clean-up with guests as volunteers, and the introduction of Forest Bathing, a nature-based educational tour for guests, including children, to help raise awareness about environmental conservation and protecting local flora and fauna.
The 5-star property, located on tranquil Tubkaek Beach facing the uninhabited limestone islands of Than Bok Khorani Marine National Park, looks to follow in the gentle footprints of Banyan Tree Samui which in 2018 became the first hotel in Thailand to be awarded “Gold Certification” at a single-property level by EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism.
The Banyan Tree brand is known worldwide for its green policies and sustainability goals, exemplified by the group’s “Stay for Good” framework which assures visitors that the hotels are contributing responsibly to practical environmental initiatives, and ethical engagement with locally-infused community projects.