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SPECIAL REPORT: Saving paradise by setting limits

The Thaiger & The Nation

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SPECIAL REPORT: Saving paradise by setting limits | The Thaiger

By Piyaporn Wongruang

Maya Bay has finally been closed down. On Thursday, park rangers at Had Nopparat Tara-Mu Ko Phi Phi marine national park placed buoys demarcating a no-access zone to prevent tourist boats getting in, as a part of a long-term rehabilitation process for the park’s world-renowned Maya Bay.

The bay was made famous by the 2000 Hollywood film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but has subsequently been ecologically degraded by the excessive number of tourists – a daily average of about 4,000 people and 200 boats.

Following a recommendation by marine experts, the National Parks Department decided to put the bay off-limits from yesterday until September 30.

The closure is seen as an entry point for a new approach to tourism management at the park, and would also set a new standard for another 26 Thai marine parks that also bear a similar burden, according to the department.

Maya Bay is just another story of a timely rescue of the country’s natural attractions before it is too late.

SPECIAL REPORT: Saving paradise by setting limits | News by The Thaiger

For years, national parks around the country have seen an influx of visitors who wish to enjoy nature, with resulting tourism-based pressures degrading their often sensitive ecosystems.

In a bid to cope with such the building threat posed by these pressures, the department has come up with measures to ensure that national parks nationwide, 131 in total, can respond effectively to tourism impacts.

The concept of “Green National Parks” has been introduced to guide tourism management in the parks, with trophies set to reward good practitioners, and at the same time hopefully to lead ultimately to sustainable tourism that is kept within the ecological carrying capacity of these precious idylls.

“If a number of tourists visit our places, but they are later damaged, we should consider that a failure of our national park mission. We would be successful only when our places are still in a good condition despite their intensive visits. It really much depends on management,” said Songtham Suksawang, a director of the department’s National Parks Office.

SPECIAL REPORT: Saving paradise by setting limits | News by The ThaigerKhao Sok National Park won an award last year along with other 14 parks for being “green national parks”

More park function

Since the first national park, Khao Yai, was declared nearly 60 years ago, national parks have always aimed to help preserve the natural values of the ecosystems of the country’s forests.

As explained by the department’s deputy chief, Jongklai Worapongsathorn, the department’s prime mission when it was first separated from the Royal Forestry Department as an independent department in 2002 was to take care of national parks, seen as the core areas of the country’s ecosystems.

Since then, tourism in national parks has been left largely unattended, with management following the park chief’s capacities and directives. Areas were zoned to aid in better management and boundaries of the heavily used recreational areas determined using better criteria.

The number of tourists visiting the parks were already a concern and some pilot projects to limit tourist access were introduced, along with measures to keep the parks clean and more environmental friendly such as a ban on foam-based food packages and actions to reduce energy use among others.

The department studied the carrying capacity of the parks, and the issue took on more importance over the years, though limits were not initially imposed. Over the past decade, those limits have been phased in for some popular national parks, including Khao Yai.

“I, myself, also did not think that one day we would get serious about this,” said Jongklai to national park chiefs attending a recent workshop to guide green national park practices for 2018. “We have seen more and more of an influx of tourists during a particular period, such as the New Year, but I think in the near future we will have to enforce limits on access to national parks regularly and popularly, as we have seen happen at some popular parks, be they Phi Phi, Similan and others.

“If we don’t adjust ourselves now (to handle tourists), we will never be able to catch up on the trend,” said Jongklai.

Influx of tourists

As recorded by the Tourism Department, tourist visits to national parks have increased over the past five years from around 11 million to 18 million last year – over half of them foreigners.

Tourism is a key driver of the country’s economy, with the income contributing nearly Bt2.9 trillion last year, according to the department.This year, it is expected that around Bt3.3 trillion will be contributed by tourism.

Tourism has also driven the country’s competitiveness to the rank of 34 out of 136 countries, the department has noted. But when environmental aspects are factored in, that ranking falls to 122, with micro dust, intensive environmental damage and threats to plant and wildlife species being the prime problems pulling the country down in rank.

Concerned parties all agree that national parks play a vital role in drawing tourists, and that role has been increasing over the years. The question is how to make it sustainable.

“The role of our national parks in tourism will never decrease, but will instead increase as more and more foreign tourists increasingly appreciate our nature and visit parks to experience it,” said Prommeth Nathomthong, a deputy director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

“From a tourism aspect, [the national parks] are vital tools to help drive our economy. … The question is how to make them sustainable, keep them in the good condition they are supposed to be in,” said Prommeth. He suggests that the concept of sustainable tourism should guide the tourism management of the parks.

SPECIAL REPORT: Saving paradise by setting limits | News by The Thaiger

Green National Parks

Sustainable tourism is clearly addressed in the 20-year national strategy, with carrying capacity being part of the strategy to help drive the country’s competitiveness and sustainable growth.

The National Parks department has adopted the concept and improved the guidelines to be followed by national parks in an effort to empower them to respond to tourism pressures.

Six areas of environmental management, and 17 related measures, have been introduced to national parks nationwide as a guideline for managing tourism and its impacts within their boundaries. The six areas are: environmental management of park offices, environmental and landscape management of the parks, saving energy, waste disposal, tourist facilities and safety.

In 2016 the department began giving out a yearly award to those completing the guidelines to it was the first year that the department gave an award to those completing the guideline. Eight national parks won the award first year, with 14 more earning it in 2017.

The department expects that in the next eight years, all the national parks will complete the guidelines and thus adhere to an international standard of practice.

“Our national parks are green by nature, but they will be not if disturbed – and now they are disturbed by tourism activities. That’s the reason why we have to have the green concept to help guide us to sustainable practices. Or our resources, coral reefs for instance, will be irreparably damaged,” said Songtham.

And addressing the problems head-on this way will not add yet another burden to the parks, he concluded.

Original report HERE.


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Phuket

The art of Thai massage – Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala

Tim Newton

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The art of Thai massage – Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | The Thaiger

Time to relax, time to be pampered. You deserve some ‘me’ time to get refreshed and be indulged at the Chann Wellness Spa at Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa, Phuket in Kamala. Tim Newton headed to Kamala for an hour of well-deserved pampering.

Chann Wellness Spa is one of the island’s most established spas combining experienced staff, the right ‘mood’ and a perfect location on the shores of Phuket’s west coast.

Chann Wellness Spa has their own Signature Massage which is a full body traditional Thai massage using essential ‘energising’ oils containing lemongrass, ginger and verbena.

Find out more about the art of the Chann Spa massage HERE.

The art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The Thaiger

The spa is visited mostly by guests of the Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa but is becoming increasingly busy with locals who know about Chann’s quality and experience. Many guests from the Thavorn Palm Beach Resort also visit the Kamala property to enjoy some relaxing therapy.

Massages come in many varieties as well as ‘soft, medium of strong’. I like a ‘medium’ which I can dial up to ‘strong’ when needed. My masseuse was Khun Natty who did her training with official Chiang Mai Government masseuse training. Lots of experience makes all the difference.

The art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The Thaiger

Chann Wellness Spa operates from its own building amidst the sprawling Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa facility, just moments away from the beach. The spa has been operating for over 10 years, bringing pleasure, comfort and relaxation to its customers.

Chann Spa features 10 individual treatment rooms and a Relaxation Sala. All of the treatments use bespoke signature spa products, with ingredients to soothe, rejuvenate and invigorate your body leaving you feeling totally relaxed. And in today’s hurly burly world sometimes it’s exactly what we need.

The spa was a deserved winner of the “Best Luxury Wellness Spa” from the World Luxury Spa Awards in 2017 – a culmination of the decade perfecting the craft of relaxing and rejuvenating tired, sore and stressed bodies. 

The art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The Thaiger

I had the Signature massage, a traditional Thai massage where Khun Natty perfectly tuned the pressures and techniques to my requests. An hour of total relaxation where I turned off and just let Chann Spa take care of me.

But how trying their Mango Sticky Rice skin treatment package? It blends a Thai favourite with the known benefits of antioxidants, vitamins and energy.

Getting a Thai massage is almost ubiquitous in Thailand. There are many options but few that can boast a decade developing a reputation and experience that Chann Spa can offer.

Finishing my treatment with Natty, I was floating on air and quite happy just to ‘chill’ with the sounds of nature and the music maintaining me in the ‘relax’ zone for a just a little longer.

Find out more about the Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa experience HERE.

The art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The Thaiger

Tim and Masseuse ‘Natty’

Tim Newton was a guest of the Chann Spa and the Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa, Kamala.

The art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The ThaigerThe art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The Thaiger The art of Thai massage - Chann Wellness Spa, Kamala | News by The Thaiger

 

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Bangkok

Calls to restrict foreign property purchases in Bangkok

The Thaiger

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Calls to restrict foreign property purchases in Bangkok | The Thaiger

Dr. Sopon Pornchockchai, the President of the Thailand Agency for Real Estate Affairs, is calling for controls to restrict foreign property buyers.

Thailandproperty.news is reporting than he is justifying his comments saying the growth in income of Thais is slower than the property price rises being pushed up by high foreign demand.

“Some measures should be adopted, such as higher stamp duty for foreigners,” he said.

The article says that this is the first time an industry figure has spoken out about the need to restrict or reduce the amount of foreign investment in the Bangkok property market. Dr. Sopom says he believes that foreign buyers account for around 20 percent of all Bangkok property purchases.

He noted that Chinese purchases account for about 80 percent of foreign buyers.

Read the original story HERE.

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Food Scene

Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate 

Tim Newton

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Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | The Thaiger

Chocolate… mmmmm. But did you consider it as part of a broader savory menu? I enjoyed an evening of chocolate-infused cuisine and, well, it really works!

Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket is treating guests to a new menu of savoury dishes with a sweet twist as Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts launches its ‘Chocolate on the Salty Side’ promotion.

In celebration of Swiss cuisine and the wonderful versatility of chocolate, the brand’s talented ‘food artisans’ have made Mövenpick chocolate the hero of seven dishes in its latest global campaign, which runs to 20 November, 2018.

From salmon fillets enlivened with dark chocolate to a savoury tarte tartin with a white chocolate flourish, each new creation offers up something distinctively flavourful and showcases chocolate in new exciting ways to guests dining at Movenpick Karon Beach El Gaucho Restaurant.

Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | News by The Thaiger Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | News by The Thaiger Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | News by The Thaiger

The seven chocolate-inspired creations include: marinated ‘beetroot salmon’ with root vegetables and 72% dark chocolate to enhance the meal’s rich earthiness; ‘tomato tarte tartin’ where ‘white lemon’ chocolate complements the goat’s cheese, pine nuts and coffee beans; ‘sea bass and green tea’ – a light foam of green tea, almonds, nuts and Mövenpick ‘Maple Walnut’ is the star; ‘minute beef goulash’, with a traditionally-made Hungarian goulash sauce, enriched with dark chocolate; ‘lamb shank and pesto’, slow-roasted and then refined with pistachio and hazelnut chocolate pesto; and ‘duck breast and potato pie’, with white chocolate, lime and pepper giving the pink-roasted meat a delicate yet spicy freshness.

Whilst the dishes have been infused with chocolate, it’s barely noticeable in most cases but makes for some subtle new tastes on European classics.

Less subtle are the exquisite desserts which are a blatant celebration of all things chocolate. Guests can finish their meal with a tempting ‘chocolate pavés au chocolat’, combining milk chocolate, crispy cocoa bean fragments, sizzling pecan nuts and slightly bitter matcha powder, all with a hint of green tea and paired with an espresso.

The quality of Swiss craftsmanship is world-famous and even the country’s chocolate is produced with legendary precision. Mövenpick chocolate is made in keeping with the tradition, as well as its own culinary values that date back 70 years, and is produced in Switzerland using 100% cocoa butter.

Make a booking HERE or find out more about the El Gaucho Restaurant HERE.

Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | News by The Thaiger Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | News by The Thaiger Savoury staples with a touch of the finest Swiss chocolate  | News by The Thaiger

Tim Newton was a guest of the management of Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket

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