Main picture Bang Kachao in Bangkok, credit travelmag.com on flickr
Despite a number of recent projects and schemes Southeast Asian countries are still lagging behind when it comes to sustainable tourism. That is according to a Euromonitor International report.
The report ranked 99 countries and territories from around the world after analyzing seven areas and 57 data indicators of sustainable tourism including environmental sustainability, social sustainability, sustainable lodging and transport and economic stability. Demand for sustainable tourism was also taken into account.
“As destinations around the world slowly begin to reopen while protecting local communities and preserve livelihoods, there is a growing awareness among consumers, businesses and governments for the need to prioritize not only profit but people and the planet.”
“Sustainable travel has raced to the top of the tourism agenda in recent years. However, only 55 percent of travel businesses implemented some form of sustainability strategy.”Euromonitor
Laos was the best performing country in the Southeast Asia region, ranking at number 51, closely followed by Myanmar in 59th place.
Despite performing well in environmental sustainability Cambodia only ranked 74th overall and Malaysia, who were 3rd for economical sustainability, was 85th overall.
Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam were all in the bottom 8 countries overall.
The overall best ranked countries were all in Europe who made up the whole top 20.
Sweden topped the list followed by Finland and Austria. France were 9th, Ireland 15th, Germany 16th, Belgium 17th and Netherlands 19th. The UK were a lowly 40th.
New Zealand appeared at number 23 followed by Australia in 29th place.
In North America Canada were 24th and the US were 35th.
The report examines if a country is overly economically dependent on tourism which makes it susceptible to threats including natural disasters, terrorism or, most relevant at the present time, pandemics.
Malaysia fares well in this area, ranking 3rd for economic sustainability, the Philippines were the 14th most improved country in this area.
This area of the report focused on the overall health of a country in terms of the environment, biodiversity and natural resources under threat due to climate emergency. It looks at the climate, natural assets, pollution, energy and water.
Cambodia ranked 4th overall in this area and Vietnam was the 6th most improved country in comparison to previous reports.
Sustainable Travel in Southeast Asia
Although the rankings paint a disappointing picture all is not doom and gloom in the region.
In Cambodia plans were recently published to develop Kep province into a high-end eco-tourism destination which is home to many rare species of animals and marine life.
There are also plans to turn areas of the Lower Mekong Dry Forest Eco-region, part of the Eastern Plains, into eco-tourism destinations, designed to encourage locals to stop illegal logging and hunting wildlife.
There are concerns in the country however with UNESCO raising concerns over a proposed US$350 million (approx £250 million) development just 500 metres from Angkor Wat restricted zone and another development, Grand Siem Reap, planned in the area.
The Philippine government recently committed to fully implement a Sustainable Tourism Development Project (STDP) for Coron and El Nido on Palawan during 2021. The area is famed for its stunning beaches, marine life and biodiversity.
A number of schemes were announced recently to improve sustainability in Singapore including new parks, the creation of a carbon-neutral destination in Sentosa and new and improved hawker centres.
In Thailand plans were recently announced for a sustainable tourism project for Bang Kachao, a haven of peace and tranquility dubbed the green lungs of Bangkok.
Bangkok will also see the opening next year of Bangkok Forest Park following developmental work on Benjakitti Park in the city.
Kien Giang province in Vietnam is planning to develop eco-tourism in the U Minh Thuong National Park in an area considered to be one of the richest regions of the Mekong Delta in terms of plant and animal diversity.
Hoi An is restricting the use of single-use plastics and plastic bags, and has cars and bikes from the centre of the town during much of the day. The Cham Islands (Cu Lao Cham) have also banned plastic bags.
Unfortunately the country has been ranked the fourth biggest polluter of oceans in the world by U.S.-based non-profit environmental organisation, Ocean Conservancy (source VNExpress).
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