Throughout 2017, the Thai Union-IUCN Partnership Project supported various community based initiatives in Koh Yao Yai, Phang Nga. The projects focused on the participatory management of marine and coastal resources and increasing livelihood resilience in the area.
Community-based tourism has been the major focus of the island's conservation schemes. The Thai Union-IUCN Partnership Project encouraged the community members to develop integrated management plans for inland, marine and coastal resources, boosting their livelihoods as a result. Community empowerment and capacity building programs were jointly developed and provided to the community representatives of Baan Klong Hia, Baan Chong Laad, Baan Yamee, and Baan Klong Bon, ensuring that the sustainable management of natural resources and tourism activities could act in concert, while also being environmentally, socially and economically profitable.
Thirty representatives including members from tour agencies, bloggers, hotels, magazines, webmasters, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT-Phang Nga branch) visted to observe the Koh Yao Yai Community-based Tourism from 8 to 10 December 2017. The trip was co-organized by TAT, Koh Yao Yai Municipality and the Partnership Project, which was an official supporter of Koh Yao Yai community-based tourism. The tour programs developed by community-based tourism members highlighted natural resource conservation activities, agriculture, fisheries, culture and local lifestyle, in order to promote healthy ecosystems and Muslim community culture.
Introducing tour agencies from Phang Nga province to the unique Koh Yao Yai community-based tourism project created essential business connections between the local community and potential customers, including advertising connections on social media and through the TAT. Conservation activities include watershed forest trekking, spending a day with local fishermen, and kayaking in mangrove forests to demonstrate the community's efforts in sustainable natural resource use and critical habitat protection in Koh Yao Yai.
In mid-December 2017, Mark Vikitsreth, Thai Union company representative and Petch Manopawitr, IUCN Thailand Program Coordinator visited Koh Yao Yai to join the community-based tourism activities. The three-day and two- night tour program provided particpants with a comprehensive overview of local experiences and the community efforts to achieve their goal of community- based natural resource use and management.
"We are so thankful to the Thai Union-IUCN Partnership Project for bringing together the four communities in Koh Yao Yai sub-district. It was our first time collectively working on our natural resources and ecosystems. Community-based tourism creates job opportunities and additional income for community members. Most importantly, we now consider to develop a long term plan for our natural resource management and fishery improvement in Koh Yao Yai sub-district together with IUCN and Thai Union," said Mr. Prasert Boonsob, representative of Koh Yao Yai community-based tourism group.
The first phase of Thai Union and IUCN partnership project ended in December 2017. A new proposal for the second phase has been jointly developed by Koh Yao Yai community representatives and IUCN. It will focus on community based management of natural resources, solid waste and wastewater management, along with community-based tourism.
More information for Community based Tourism at Koh Yao Yai sub-district, Phang Nga: