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Thailand is a multi-facted destination of enormous cultural and topographical diversity. For the visitor, variety is the spice of life. From the golden-spired temples of Bangkok to the majestic ruins of our ancient capitals, Thailand has taken great efforts to preserve the monuments of the past. Thailand's rich cultural heritage is a matter of national pride and worthy of protection.
Nature has also been generous to Thailand. As varied as the historical and cultural attractions is the beauty of our ever changing landscapes. High forest-clad hills, pristine beaches, magnificent bays, and long undulating rivers.
The natural beauty of the country is one of the key factors that will help to bring about 8 million visitors to Thailand this year. Preserving those natural attractions is a high priority and is actively encouraged by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) through the promotion of Ecotourism.
Ecotourism, often referred to as sustainable tourism, is a new concept different from conventional tourism. Its activities are confined to a sustainable area requiring proper management and effective environmental protection. Ecotourism can cater to all types and levels of visitors. It requires a balance between protection and profit.
Tourism activities must be sustainable while the regular flow of visitors is maintained, and tourism resources must retain their attractiveness while operators still run their businesses. There must also be proper destination management that ensures the minimum impact on nature, society and culture. Ecotourism is both the responsibility of the visitor and the host. Tourists are encouraged to take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints when they visit our natural sites. Environmental education is evolving in Thailand, from the classroom to the boardroom in an effort to increase the knowledge and the appreciation of all concerned.
Local communities are encouraged to participate, taking a direct role in the preservation of their region. More and more eco-tourists are visiting Thailand. Both local and foreign travellers are engaged in ecology-related activities. The most popular activities of this type are forest trekking, birdwatching, wildlife watching, cave exploring, scuba diving, snorkelling, nature study via forest trails, and non-forest nature study. On the local scene, it is estimated that almost 70% of all Thai domestic tourists are engaged in ecology-related activities. Ecotourism can be an effective tool for environmental and natural resources conservation if its management is properly conducted.