Andaman Discoveries in Thailand was born out of tragedy, and formed shortly after the Boxing Day Tsunami when villagers decided that community-based tourism would allow them to generate additional income and support their traditions, culture, and lifestyle. Since then, Andaman Discoveries has been offering various tours (volunteer trips, family holidays, and educational visits for schools) to empower the local community. Their Moken Experience tour supports nomadic communities preserve their culture through responsible tourism.
Here’s a snapshot of some of their key achievements, and reasons why Wild Asia has identified them as one of the 2014 finalists in the category Best in Cultural Preservation…
- Education is key at Andaman Discoveries. As well as offering educational tours to school groups, they also work to educate all guests by providing information in the following forms: Pre-Departure Guide, In-Village Guide, Visitor’s Phrasebook, Koh Surin Moken In-Village Guide, and Koh Surin Moken Way of Life.
- They have created a library collection on local Moken culture. Moken Sea Nomads, an ancient sea people who have lived along Thailand’s North Andaman coast for thousands of years. Traditionally nomadic, the Moken are hunter-gatherers that live in harmony with nature. Guests are encouraged to learn more to discover how they can help preserve this culture that faces challenges of modernisation.
- A translator accompanies guests on village tours and if they are attending traditional ceremonies, so that customs can be communicated.
- They advocate traditional building within the community, and the use of sustainable building materials.
- Guests can learn more about traditional Thai family life by staying at one of their partner homestays . Fun activities include learning how to prepare local food dishes.
- To support local artisans, they have a shop which provides the opportunity for seven villages to sell their products and traditional crafts.
- Their historic tours have resulted in the Moken community sharing their wisdom with others and have been inspired to build traditional boats to inform guests about their nomadic heritage. Tours introduce guests to the traditional lifestyle and culture of local communities, which help local communities develop a sense of place and provide the guest with a greater understanding of the area’s cultural heritage.
- Moken communities have been integral in the development of tours, based on their recommendation. Jobs have been generated for engaged individuals, who have also benefited from capacity building in sustainable tourism development.
For more information about Andaman Discoveries, please visit their website.
Pictures and text reproduced from WildAsia with permission.