Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

What Percentage Of Tourism In Thailand Is Ecotourism?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Torey Beall



Thailand, known for its vibrant culture, stunning natural landscapes, and warm hospitality, has long been a popular tourist destination. With a diverse range of attractions, from ancient temples to pristine beaches, the country welcomes millions of visitors each year. However, as the global consciousness around environmental preservation grows, there is an increasing focus on sustainable and responsible tourism.


One form of tourism that aligns with these principles is ecotourism. Ecotourism aims to minimize the negative impact on the environment, support conservation efforts, and promote the well-being of local communities. It provides travelers with the opportunity to engage with nature, experience traditional cultures, and contribute to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.


In Thailand, where nature holds a prominent place in its identity, ecotourism has gained considerable attention and is seen as a way to protect and showcase the country’s rich biodiversity. With its lush forests, rivers, and abundant wildlife, Thailand offers a range of opportunities for visitors to connect with nature and support sustainable practices.


However, while ecotourism has gained momentum in recent years, it is essential to understand the current state of ecotourism in Thailand. What percentage of tourism in Thailand can be classified as ecotourism? To answer this question, we need to delve into the tourism industry in Thailand and examine the growth and challenges of ecotourism in the country. By doing so, we can gain a better understanding of the current landscape and the potential for further development.


Definition of Ecotourism

Before delving into the specifics of ecotourism in Thailand, it is important to establish a clear understanding of what ecotourism entails. Ecotourism is a form of tourism that emphasizes responsible travel practices, with a primary focus on nature appreciation, conservation, and community involvement. It aims to minimize the negative impacts on the environment and provide a mutually beneficial relationship between tourists, the natural surroundings, and local communities.


Key principles of ecotourism include:

  • Sustainable Practices: Ecotourism seeks to operate in a sustainable manner by promoting the conservation of natural resources, minimizing waste, and reducing carbon emissions. It prioritizes the well-being of ecosystems and strives to leave a positive impact on the environment.
  • Nature and Wildlife Conservation: Ecotourism places a strong emphasis on the protection and preservation of natural habitats, biodiversity, and wildlife. It promotes education and awareness about the importance of conservation efforts and supports initiatives that safeguard endangered species and fragile ecosystems.
  • Community Involvement: Engaging and benefiting local communities is another essential aspect of ecotourism. It promotes cultural exchange and respects the rights and traditions of indigenous people. Ecotourism initiatives often involve local communities in decision-making processes and provide economic opportunities to support sustainable development.
  • Educational and Interpretive Experiences: Ecotourism encourages visitors to learn about the environment, ecosystem functioning, and the cultural significance of the destinations they visit. It promotes educational experiences that raise awareness about the importance of conservation, sustainability, and the interconnections between humans and nature.

By adhering to these principles, ecotourism offers a unique and enriching travel experience. It allows travelers to connect with nature, learn from local communities, and contribute to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.


Now that we have established the definition and principles of ecotourism, let us explore how these concepts are manifested within Thailand’s tourism industry and the specific efforts made to promote ecotourism in the country.


Tourism Industry in Thailand

The tourism industry in Thailand plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, contributing significantly to its GDP and providing employment opportunities for millions of people. Known for its warm hospitality, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, Thailand has been a top choice for travelers from all over the world.


Over the years, Thailand has developed a robust tourism infrastructure to cater to the diverse interests and preferences of visitors. From luxurious beach resorts to bustling city attractions, the country offers a wide range of experiences for every type of traveler.


In recent years, Thailand has witnessed a significant increase in tourist arrivals. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, in 2019, the country welcomed a staggering 39.8 million international tourists. This number highlights the popularity and appeal of Thailand as a destination.


The tourism industry in Thailand has been steadfast in its efforts to provide high-quality services and experiences to visitors. From well-preserved historical sites such as the ancient city of Ayutthaya to breathtaking natural wonders like the Phi Phi Islands, there is no shortage of attractions for tourists to explore.


However, this rapid growth in tourism has also brought some challenges. The influx of visitors puts pressure on natural resources, cultural heritage sites, and local communities. Uncontrolled development and mass tourism in certain areas have led to environmental degradation and cultural erosion.


Recognizing the importance of sustainability, the Thai government and various stakeholders in the tourism industry have taken steps to address these challenges. Efforts have been made to promote responsible tourism practices and emphasize the value of ecotourism in preserving the country’s natural and cultural assets.


Now, let’s delve deeper into how ecotourism has emerged as a significant component of the tourism industry in Thailand, and explore the initiatives undertaken to promote sustainable practices and preserve the country’s natural wonders.


Ecotourism in Thailand

Thailand, with its diverse ecosystems and abundant natural beauty, has embraced ecotourism as a way to protect its environment and promote sustainable practices. The country offers numerous opportunities for travelers to engage in ecotourism activities and experience its unique flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.


One of the prime examples of ecotourism in Thailand is the Khao Sok National Park. Located in southern Thailand, this national park is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Visitors can explore the park’s lush vegetation, take part in guided wildlife tours, and even stay overnight in eco-friendly accommodations for an immersive experience in nature. Other popular ecotourism destinations in Thailand include Chiang Mai, where visitors can visit hill tribes and learn about their sustainable way of life, and the marine conservation areas in the Andaman Sea, which offer opportunities for snorkeling and diving while promoting the protection of coral reefs.


In addition to natural attractions, Thailand has also embraced community-based ecotourism initiatives. These initiatives aim to involve and empower local communities, allowing travelers to experience traditional ways of life and support local economies. For example, in the northern province of Mae Hong Son, visitors can engage with the Karen hill tribe community, participate in cultural activities, and contribute to community development projects.


The Thai government and various organizations have taken steps to promote and support ecotourism ventures. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has developed guidelines and certification programs for ecotourism operators, ensuring that sustainable practices are followed. Moreover, there are initiatives in place to educate tourists about responsible behavior and the importance of conservation.


Thailand’s commitment to ecotourism is also evident in the growing number of eco-lodges and sustainable accommodations available throughout the country. These establishments prioritize minimizing environmental impact by using renewable energy sources, implementing waste management systems, and supporting local communities through employment and the use of locally sourced products.


Overall, Thailand’s efforts in promoting ecotourism have been fruitful. The country has positioned itself as a leading destination for responsible travel, attracting visitors who seek authentic experiences while supporting conservation efforts and community development.


However, challenges persist, and there is room for further growth and improvement. In the next section, we will explore the current percentage of ecotourism in Thailand and the factors that impact its growth.


Challenges and Opportunities for Ecotourism in Thailand

While ecotourism in Thailand has gained momentum in recent years, it still faces several challenges that hinder its full potential. These challenges need to be addressed to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of ecotourism in the country. However, amidst these challenges, there are also opportunities that can be leveraged to further develop and promote ecotourism in Thailand.


One of the primary challenges for ecotourism in Thailand is the delicate balance between conservation and tourism development. As more visitors are attracted to eco-destinations, there is a risk of overtourism and the degradation of natural habitats. Managing the number of visitors and implementing sustainable tourism practices are essential to prevent overcrowding and preserve the integrity of ecologically sensitive areas.


Another challenge is the lack of awareness and understanding of ecotourism among tourists. Many travelers may not fully grasp the concept of responsible travel or may prioritize convenience over sustainability. Raising awareness and educating tourists about ecotourism principles and the positive impact it has on local communities and the environment is crucial.


Infrastructure development in ecotourism areas is also necessary to enhance the visitor experience. Improving transportation, accommodations, and facilities without compromising the natural surroundings can be a challenge. However, investing in sustainable infrastructure and creating visitor-friendly facilities can significantly contribute to the growth of ecotourism.


On the other hand, Thailand has several opportunities to capitalize on to boost ecotourism. The country’s rich biodiversity, from its tropical forests to its marine ecosystems, provides a unique selling point for attracting nature enthusiasts. Investing in the conservation and protection of these fragile ecosystems can create more opportunities for ecotourism.


Community involvement is another opportunity that can be harnessed to strengthen ecotourism in Thailand. By empowering local communities to participate in tourism initiatives, their unique knowledge and cultural heritage can be preserved and shared with visitors. This not only enhances the visitor experience but also ensures that the economic benefits of tourism are distributed equitably among the community members.


Collaboration among stakeholders, including government agencies, local communities, and tour operators, is crucial for the sustainable development of ecotourism in Thailand. By working together, they can create and enforce regulations, implement educational programs, and develop innovative solutions to the challenges facing ecotourism.


With effective planning, proper management, and the continued commitment of all stakeholders, Thailand has the potential to become a global leader in ecotourism. By capitalizing on its natural and cultural assets while prioritizing sustainability, the country can offer unforgettable experiences to travelers while protecting its natural heritage for generations to come.


Current Percentage of Ecotourism in Thailand

Measuring the exact percentage of ecotourism within Thailand’s overall tourism industry can be challenging due to the lack of standardized definitions and criteria for categorizing tourism activities as “ecotourism.” However, it is evident that ecotourism has been growing in popularity and significance in recent years.


Thailand’s commitment to promoting sustainable practices and preserving its natural and cultural heritage has led to the emergence of numerous ecotourism initiatives and destinations. These include national parks, protected areas, community-based tourism projects, and eco-lodges that highlight environmentally friendly practices and offer immersive nature experiences.


The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has been actively promoting ecotourism and encouraging tourists to engage in responsible travel. The TAT’s efforts include promoting eco-friendly accommodations, certifying ecotourism operators, and providing educational materials to visitors about sustainable tourism practices.


While there is no official data on the exact percentage of ecotourism within Thailand’s tourism industry, some estimates suggest that ecotourism represents a significant portion of the overall tourism activities in the country. It is evident through the growing number of tourists seeking immersive nature experiences, participating in eco-friendly activities, and visiting ecotourism destinations.


Thailand’s diverse natural attractions, such as national parks, rainforests, and marine reserves, offer ample opportunities for ecotourism experiences. The popularity of these destinations among both domestic and international visitors indicates a growing interest and demand for responsible and sustainable travel options.


Furthermore, the increasing number of eco-lodges and accommodations that prioritize sustainability and environmental practices is a testament to the rising importance of ecotourism in the country. These establishments provide eco-conscious travelers with opportunities to minimize their ecological footprint while enjoying their stay in Thailand.


It is important to note that the percentage of ecotourism in Thailand is fluid and subject to change as the tourism industry evolves and new initiatives are implemented. The ongoing efforts of the government, local communities, and tourism stakeholders to promote and develop ecotourism will likely lead to further growth and an increased percentage of ecotourism within the overall tourism industry.


Ultimately, while the exact percentage of ecotourism in Thailand may be difficult to determine, it is evident that ecotourism is a significant and growing component of the country’s tourism industry. The emphasis on preserving natural resources, supporting local communities, and providing immersive nature experiences reflects Thailand’s commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism.


Factors Affecting the Percentage of Ecotourism in Thailand

Several factors influence the percentage of ecotourism within Thailand’s overall tourism industry. These factors play a crucial role in shaping the growth and development of ecotourism initiatives in the country. Understanding these factors can provide insights into the opportunities and challenges faced in promoting and expanding ecotourism in Thailand.


1. Natural Resources and Biodiversity: Thailand’s rich natural resources and diverse biodiversity serve as a foundation for ecotourism. The presence of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and protected areas attracts nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers who are interested in exploring and experiencing Thailand’s unique ecosystems.


2. Community Engagement and Empowerment: The involvement and engagement of local communities are vital to the success of ecotourism. When communities are empowered and have a stake in tourism activities, they become active participants in promoting sustainability and preserving their cultural heritage, thereby adding to the appeal of ecotourism destinations.


3. Sustainable Practices and Infrastructure: The adoption of sustainable practices in the development of infrastructure and facilities is crucial for ecotourism. This includes eco-friendly accommodations, responsible waste management systems, energy-efficient transportation, and the preservation of natural landscapes and resources.


4. Awareness and Education: Raising awareness among both tourists and locals about the importance of responsible and sustainable tourism is essential. Educational initiatives can help instill an understanding of ecotourism principles, promote conservation efforts, and encourage visitors to make more environmentally conscious choices during their travel experiences.


5. Regulation and Policy: Effective regulations and policies play a significant role in fostering ecotourism. Clear guidelines for eco-certification, responsible tourism practices, and the protection of natural and cultural heritage sites contribute to the development of sustainable tourism and provide a framework for operators to adhere to best practices.


6. Marketing and Promotion: Effective marketing and promotion are crucial to increasing the percentage of ecotourism in Thailand. Collaborative efforts between government agencies, tourism bodies, and ecotourism operators can help showcase the unique experiences and benefits of ecotourism, attracting more visitors who prioritize sustainable and responsible travel.


7. Climate Change and Environmental Conservation: The global challenge of climate change and environmental conservation directly impacts ecotourism. Efforts to combat climate change, protect sensitive ecosystems, and mitigate the impacts of tourism-related activities are essential in maintaining the attractiveness and viability of ecotourism destinations in Thailand.


8. Visitor Expectations and Demand: Ultimately, the percentage of ecotourism in Thailand is influenced by the demands and expectations of visitors. As more travelers seek meaningful and authentic experiences that align with responsible tourism practices, the demand for ecotourism offerings will continue to grow.


By considering these factors and addressing associated challenges, Thailand can continue to foster the growth and development of ecotourism, ensuring that it becomes an increasingly significant proportion of the overall tourism industry in the country.



Ecotourism is an increasingly important component of the tourism industry in Thailand. The country’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and commitment to sustainability make it an ideal destination for travelers seeking meaningful and responsible travel experiences.


Though the exact percentage of ecotourism within Thailand’s tourism industry is difficult to determine, it is evident that ecotourism has gained traction in recent years. Thailand offers a wide array of ecotourism opportunities, from national parks and protected areas to community-based initiatives that engage visitors with local cultures and promote environmental conservation.


Challenges faced in promoting ecotourism include balancing conservation efforts with tourism development, raising awareness among tourists about responsible travel practices, and ensuring the participation and empowerment of local communities. However, there are also opportunities to leverage, such as Thailand’s rich natural resources, community engagement, and sustainable infrastructure.


The factors that affect the percentage of ecotourism in Thailand include the availability and preservation of natural resources, community involvement, sustainable practices and infrastructure, awareness and education, regulation and policy, effective marketing and promotion, climate change considerations, and visitor expectations and demand.


By addressing these factors and continuing to prioritize sustainability, Thailand can further enhance its ecotourism offerings and solidify its position as a leader in responsible and nature-based tourism. Encouraging collaboration among government agencies, local communities, and tourism stakeholders will also be key to sustaining the growth and development of ecotourism in Thailand.


In conclusion, Thailand’s commitment to ecotourism is evident through the initiatives, conservation efforts, and community engagement taking place across the country. With its natural wonders, cultural heritage, and ongoing dedication to sustainability, Thailand is poised to continue attracting visitors who seek unique and responsible travel experiences, making a positive impact on the environment and contributing to the well-being of local communities.