Lisu Lodge Tea Plantation_blog

I am often asked about our business model and how I see its future in Thailand. Most often than not, my answers are more negative than positive. Usually, I am sincerely excited by the interest but disappointed in the lack of understanding and commitment for sustainable tourism. Eco-tourism and community-based tourism are not a trend and it cannot be, because it involves and affects people’s lives. It is about preservation, building lives, economic sustainability and delivering a unique travel experience.

Global studies have showed that this is a growing sector in the travel industry and many are interested to join. It’s not that we do not desire to see more investments in this sector. Indeed, it is to our advantage that more investors take on this type of tourism. The more we have projects like Asian Oasis, the more Thailand will spend its budget to promote sustainable tourism. Interested investors should have deep understanding about it and take this on wholeheartedly with full commitment. This way, we can preserve, build and sustain the livelihood of the community and their surroundings and at the same time deliver the best travel experience.

Working with the local communities is a key component to our formula of success. It takes a tremendous amount of personal and financial commitments to the people and the environment. Whatever we chose to do, we do it by constantly questioning ourselves with concerns of the impacts on the locals. Therefore, any investor wanting to venture into this business must build a strong relationship with the community and strive to achieve their goals.

Another question I am often asked is the classic school book question “ Do you think your business has changed the culture and tradition of the local people?” And the Answer is ‘Yes, it has”. This is because changes are unavoidable and I believe we are ensuring a better way towards the changes. Our communities will change but they will be mindful of the importance of preservation and sustainability. It is unrealistic to assume there will no changes or external influences by global social phenomenon and environmental change. These changes will impact the communities and, depending on how strong they are, they will be able to manage and thrive with it.

For us, creating employment opportunity in the village is important in building a strong community. When the villagers do not have to seek jobs outside the village, they can work close to their home, raise their children and care for the elders. This way we can support the livelihood of the locals and preserve their traditions. Our community bank is also used to fund village projects.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Creating a sustainable community is not only about offering jobs to people because that can only provide for limited number of people.  We also have to create businesses for them. At our lodges, the local villagers operate most of the tour activities for our guests, including transfers, trekking, white water rafting and ox cart. Many of them have expanded their business to service not only our guests but also other travel companies. Besides tour activities, the Lisu women at Lisu Lodge get together to open a handicraft market near the lodge.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The key to our success is our ability to deliver the experience to our guest – the experiences that are real, fun and meaningful. This, we do by training our staff and providing guests comfort for both body and mind. We offer international standard for safety. We understand the needs of our guests who want to experience something real, to be close to the local people and also support sustainable initiatives. Therefore, we commit ourselves to delivering this to them in the most comfortable, engaging and authentic way.

 KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA