Laura Faragher and Tom Thompson spent 2 weeks working in Thailand as part of Thomson’s internal volunteering programme. Here’s what they got up to…
Volunteer Names: Laura Faragher and Tom Thompson
Job Titles: Product Manager and Retail Manager
Project Discovery Location: Thailand
Assignment: To see how we can make the excursions Thomson offers in Thailand more sustainable, using the Travel Foundation’s Greener Excursions tool
Every year, a group of Thomson employees is given the opportunity to be part of one of many fantastic sustainability projects run in conjunction with the Travel Foundation. This year, not only were we part of that group, but we headed off to Thailand – one of our brand new destinations.
Thomson Airways is the only UK operator to fly non-stop direct to Phuket on the 787 Dreamliner, and what an amazing flying experience it is! As well as offering a better flight experience overall, the Dreamliner is much better for the environment as it’s up to 20% more fuel efficient and up to 60% quieter than the plane it’s replaced.
On arrival in Phuket, fresh from our flight, we could immediately see why this place is known as the Land of Smiles, and we were quickly directed to our transfer to the Phuket Ocean Village, which was to be our home for the next 14 nights.
Our main objective in Thailand was to review the new excursions programme, identifying ways in which our excursions could be operated more sustainably by using the Travel Foundation’s Greener Excursions tool. Luckily for us, that meant testing out a lot of excursions!
The new programme offers a fantastic range of excursions that showcase the ‘real’ Thailand. In total, we tried out 6 excursions ranging from sea canoeing through mangrove forests, to elephant trekking. Here are some of our highlights:
• Speeding through the Krabi province, like James Bond, zipping between the islands!
• Snorkelling in the Indian Ocean, getting up close and personal with the underwater creatures
• Trekking through the jungle on an elephant, cared for and guided by the elephant’s ‘mahout’
• Learning how to make a Thai Green curry – yum!
• Tucking in to a tasty picnic on a beautiful remote island, with no-one there, bar us
• Finding secret lagoons that can only be accessed by canoe at low tide – the rock above us was so low we had to lie back to squeeze through!
• Seeing the bright lights, glitz and glamour of the Phuket FantaSea theme park, and learning about local Thai heritage while we were at it
As well as making recommendations for ways to make our excursions greener, we spent lots of time during our visit talking to locals to get their thoughts on sustainability. We interviewed a number of residents including the destination manager, as well as many local guides. The Thai people are clearly very passionate about their country and have a real desire to operate more sustainably in order to offer customers special experiences, whilst at the same time protecting the destination. It was great to spend so much time talking to people face-to-face.
Looking back, we absolutely loved every second of our time in Thailand and the first-hand experience we got of the fantastic things this destination has to offer. We hope that through the recommendations we provide based on our findings from the trip, Thomson, First Choice and the Travel Foundation – alongside the Local Government in Thailand – can continue to support greener and fairer holidays in Thailand for many years to come.
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