During this spring I did a uni course in tourism and at the end of the course we had to write a thesis about an organisation in the tourism business. One module during the course that really interested me was sustainable development and sustainable tourism and as I have spent many months, actually over a year, travelling in Thailand I ended up writing about the the small organisation on the island Koh Tao called Save Koh Tao. The reason I chose Save Koh Tao is that when I visited the island for the third year in a row in 2008 I was met by local school children at the pier. They were selling bio shopping bags with Save Koh Taos logo on them saying; “Preserve Paradise, say no to plastic bags”.
Save Koh Tao was established by the community on the island in 2002 and they aim to conserve the natural resources on the island, its environment and the local traditions. All those things are significant capitals to sustainable tourism development. As the island has about 300 000 visitors per year you can imagine how much rubbish the island has to deal with. Being a very small island the tourism and its litter have a big negative impact on the island and it surrounded marine environment. Many of the problems the island has to deal with are deforestation, lack of freshwater, waste water release, infrastructure and you can also add on social problems to that.
Save Koh Tao is divided into three branches; Education, Land Conservation and Marine Conservation. They all function together.
The Land Conservation Branch organizes weekly and monthly Beach Clean-Ups around the island. They also have weekly Clean-Ups with local School Children. Further more the Land Conservation Branch educate the local School Children in sustainable development and organic farming and regularly the organisation does waste water testing around the island.
The Marine Conservation Branch organizes monthly underwater Clean-Ups, they have a program for saving and breading sea turtles, they are performing reef checks and they do water testing around the island, educate divers and tourists about threats to coral reefs and they have built a Biorock alternative dive site and coral restoration site. Other things the Marine Conservation Branch does is bubble making workshops for the local children, teaching them how to use a diving equipment and breath under water.
There is a great small documentary made about Save Koh Tao on youtube, uploaded in two parts.