Published on September 11, 2013
Voluntourism is a new kind of tourism: involved, immersive, and connected to the people and places one visits. Voluntourists want to do much more than simply pass through a place; they want to stay for an extended time, participate in meaningful activities, and make positive changes to the cultures or ecosystems they visit.
Those interested in marine life, aquatic activities, and natural resource conservation will definitely want to look into this voluntourism project, based on Koh Talu (Talu Island), in Prachuab Khiri Khan Province. It is a unique opportunity to work with experts in the field to conserve the exotic marine life and coral reefs of the area.
Koh Talu, Koh Singh, and Koh Sang are three picturesque islands located in the northwest of the Gulf of Thailand, and they are part of a marine restoration project currently underway there. Overfishing and the use of harmful “fishing” methods such as dynamite fishing and cyanide fishing, which cause great damage to the coastal ecosystem, have affected much of the beautiful sea life and coral reef around these islands.
In order to combat this problem, organizations like the Marine Science Activity Conservation Foundation (MSACF) and the Coral Reef Restoration Project of Koh Talu Island Resort have undertaken campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of coral preservation.
The Coral Reef Restoration Project has developed a technique for transplanting coral which they’ve been using successfully for over ten years, and which is open from time to time to travelers as a voluntourism opportunity. The resort’s owner also runs the country’s largest privately run hatchery and nursery for hawksbill turtles.
Koh Talu islanders have allocated an area of the island for the nursery, and the Royal Thai Navy has an active role in the program as well. Veterinarians from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources who are experts in the hawksbill turtle also consult on the project, providing advice on egg laying, incubation, and nursing.
Volunteer Program Activities include: Making artificial coral reef; collecting turtle’s eggs for incubation; turtle conservation; collecting trash on the island; diving and collecting coral reef branches; operating a blue crab “bank”; mangrove planting; and working with hearing and speech-impaired children.
Among the countless leisure program activities available are trekking; bicycle touring in Bang Saphan city; visiting Wat Boat Mountain and enjoying the view from the mountain’s peak; touring a gold-panning village; and making traditional Thai ornaments by hand.
You will be to count among your accomplishments: Learning best practices for sea restoration and sustainable fishing management in Thailand; participating in the everyday lives and culture of the Koh Talu island people; repairing coral reef habitats for the Gulf of Thailand’s delicate marine ecosystem.; increasing the growth rate of blue crabs; and improving the survival rate of the endangered hawksbill turtle.
TAT, as the main supporter under “The Little Big Project” campaign, strongly encourages interested travellers from around the world to participate in one of the special projects that it supports throughout Thailand. This is a unique opportunity for active travellers to experience Thailand up close and personally, to contribute to the local culture or conserve irreplaceable natural resources, and to return home with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
To learn more about this project and other Voluntourism projects supported by the TAT, please go to www.thelittlebigprojectthailand.com
For more information about Thailand, please visit TourismThailand.org