The private sector including the tour operators and the government agencies i.e. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) were aware of the necessity to create a network to support national ecotourism. There were occasions where ideas were exchanged and finally a national conference was held where participants from relevant agencies both public and private came together to establish the idea of creating an ecotourism network, with the aim to support ecotourism and sustainable tourism. The meeting agreed to create 3 levels of network: National, Operational and Local.
The private sector, which had more flexibility than other parties, had already set up a network called "Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association" (TEATA) in December 1997. TEATA was created with a joint effort of tour operators who regularly organized eco-trips. The aim was to maintain a high quality and standard for this type of tour activities, management, staff, programs management, trip itineraries and services, in order to achieve the ecotourism goal. i.e. to conserve nature, culture and environment.
To be a center Association of Eco-tourism & Adventure Travel in Southeast Asia.
1. To develop and promote eco and adventure tourism as well as set up the standard of tourism related activities and services;
2. To demonstrate & publicise a good practice of eco and adventure tourism as sustainable tourism, and to generate incomes to local communities;
3. To work and collaborate closely with the government, private sectors and local communities to enhance environmental conservation, and to ensure that tourism development goes well with nature, leading to increased awareness of the importance to conserve natural attractions; and
4. To provide education and trainings on eco and adventure tourism to its members and general public, and to support conservation programmes when and where appropriate.
To ensure that all its members remain a responsible tour operator as expected, the association sets up its basic principles for the members to follow as below:
1. Activities conducted by TEATA's members should avoid or minimise negative impacts that might cause damages to the natural and cultural environment of the area where tourism takes place;
2. Tourism activities organised by TEATA members should benefit the conservation of nature and culture of the travel destination;
3. Tourism operation/management should support and encourage local involvement in running tourism activities, and the local community should directly benefit from tourism;
4. Any tourism activity should be organised in a way that it can educate tourists and raise their awareness about the significance of environmental conservation and appreciation of cultural differences; and
5. Tourism should be socially responsible with sound plans and management system that shall lead to socially and economically sustainable in the long term.
Networking is significant and the association has a policy and plan to continue building and maintaining a network for ultimate benefits of its members. Apart from networking in Thailand, the organisation will expand its network to cover sub-regions in Asia by beginning from the nearest neighbours like Indochina and Southeast Asia. In the meantime, the association also tries to continue establishing a network of eco and adventure tourism at international level by first linking with the International Eco-Tourism Society and other organisations of both government and private sectors.
Potential Future Plans
For 2006-2008, TEATA will potentially focus on the following plans:
1. Organize education, training and capacity building programmes for TEATA's members, the public and organisations to improve skills needed in various fields;
2. Encourage the members to organise eco and adventure tourism activities all over the country to promote quality tourism which is socially responsible;
3. Conduct a campaign for energy saving promotion through low-impact tourism activities;
4. Conduct a pilot project on the best practice of nature walk/jungle trek in protected areas with TAT and National Park Department;
5. Promote consortium marketing among the members of the association, and also joint marketing with others outside the association like TAT, tourism association and clubs, government and private sectors at provincial and national levels.;
6. Increase a number of TEATA club's members among students and individuals with an interest in eco-tourism and adventure;
7. Promote activities that raise and enhance awareness of environmental conservation among youths and general public. Such activities as eco-camp and bird watching camp can be jointly operated with organisations that have a clear policy or plan to support conservation programmes;
8. Support publications of quality printed media on eco and adventure tourism as an education tools or manual for the public;
9. Organise activities and events to enhance unity and networking among the members; and
10. Continue building and expanding a network at national and international levels.