At Anurak Community Lodge, situated on the edge of Khao Sok National Park in Thailand’s southern Surat Thani Province, we’re committed to sustainable tourism and ensuring we minimize our ecological footprint on the park’s pristine biodiversity. As part of our sustainability initiatives, we strive to involve, educate and empower the local community through every aspect of our operations so that they too can see the real benefits that sustainable tourism can provide.
Over the last couple of decades, commercial farming practices have transformed Thailand’s southern region with large corporations buying up huge tracts of land and planting rubber trees and oil palms. These two monocultures are having a detrimental impact, not just on the environment, but also on poor communities, where small local farmers have been unable to compete with the large corporations, forcing them to sell their land.
No longer with the means to make an income, many local farmers have had no option but to find work on the rubber and palm oil plantations – toiling for long hours on land they once owned. Thailand is the world’s third largest producer of crude palm oil with an industry that employs more than 300,000 laborers, and while on paper that may seem like a good thing for the country’s economy, local people employed in the industry receive low hourly wages and see little in the way of economic benefits.
At Anurak, we strive to provide more opportunities to members of the local community through employment at our eco-lodge. As receptionists, guides, cooks, housekeeping staff, restaurant staff and more, they receive a regular monthly income with benefits and are considered valued members of our family. In addition, working for us at Anurak opens up new avenues to them in the hospitality industry. Not only do we provide training, we also arrange regular seminars and workshops to which we invite industry specialists that can impart their expertise and help them improve their skills and prospects.
The English language is also an important part of the hospitality industry and in addition to language training, local staff are exposed on a daily basis to our international guests, with whom they are encouraged to communicate and interact. This interaction provides them with valuable first-hand experience of people from other cultures, while also boosting their confidence and ability to communicate.
Many of our guides are also former hunters, with expert knowledge of Khao Sok National Park’s terrain, its flora and fauna. As reformed hunters, our guides quickly begin to see the advantages that sustainable tourism practices can offer – preserving the park’s biodiversity for future generations and providing them with a sustainable income for their families. At the same time, guides are putting their local knowledge to positive use, which instils in them a sense of pride and respect for their local environment.
Your stay with us at Anurak supports the local community too, as all food supplies, crafts and services – including local tours, transportation, furniture, handicrafts and much more – are all sourced from small, local businesses, which helps generate economic stability for the surrounding communities.
In our gift shop, all products are made by local businesses, including those made from recyclable materials and produced by local community groups and foundations. We also look to empower local women in their business endeavors, as well as local micro entrepreneurs in the establishment and growth of their fledgling businesses.
Finally, we are always ready to support local events, whether it’s a local football league, or an activity for children at the local school. Through many of these fun and/or educational events, Anurak is able to bring people closer together, while also spreading the word about the importance of ‘community’ within the sustainable tourism model. Community is, after all, a fundamental part or who are at Anurak Community Lodge.