Guides undergo ecotourism training

SURAT THANI, 28 June 2018: Tourism teachers held an ecotourism hospitality training workshop in southern Thailand, 24 to 25 June.

The two-day event at Anurak Community Lodge provided training in conservation and tourism hospitality to local service providers in Khao Sok National Park.

The workshop was conducted by Assumption University’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, sponsored by YAANA Ventures, a Bangkok based sustainable tourism investor.

Twenty-two tour guides, front office personnel, housekeepers, waiters and back-of-house staff, all from local villages, and employed at Anurak, benefited from two days of “Spirit of Hospitality” training, led by project coordinator Dr Scott Smith from the university.

YAANA Ventures’ founder, Willem Niemeijer, commented: “Khao Sok boasts some of Thailand’s most stunning scenery and is home to incredible biodiversity. We therefore share the responsibility to ensure tourism is developed in a sustainable way, showing that it can make a positive contribution to conservation that involves and benefits the local community.”

Ahead of the workshop, Smith prepared a service audit and worked with management and staff to develop a training programme to meet the needs of the lodge. Most guests are visitors from Europe, the United States and Singapore. They typically want informed, zero-impact nature activities such as forest hiking and kayaking in the park. When back at the lodge they appreciate local Thai food and ambience in the Hornbill restaurant, which offers a dramatic view of the karst mountain landscape.

“Our objective was to identify opportunities to exceed customers’ expectations and create positive memory-making moments for all guests visiting Anurak Community Lodge,” said Smith.

Anurak Lodge operates as an eco-friendly retreat with 18 comfortable bungalow-style rooms. The lodge is a jump off point for tours and activities in Khao Sok National Park and to the nearby Cheow Lan Lake.

Established in 1980, Khao Sok National Park conserves 739 square kilometres of forested hills in Surat Thani Province.

Anurak Community Lodge opened its doors in 2015 and is designed, built and operated sustainably. The lodge doesn’t use plastic water bottles. It is replacing mono-culture palm oil trees in its grounds with indigenous plant and tree species.