Pulse on THAILAND | Homestay Experience at the Andaman Coast5 mins read
Thailand homestay Experience Andaman Coast | Three hours north, from the more famous Phuket in Thailand, you will find a small village called Ban Talae Nok. Here you can experience how it is to be local through a Thailand homestay experience. We have checked in, to hear how things are going in the village along the Andaman Coast. How has Covid-19 affected their livelihood and way of living?
We are on a call with Lindsey Reding from Andaman Discoveries. She has been living in Thailand for the past ten years, and working with AD for ten. She is originally from the States, but as part of a Peace Corps programme she went to Thailand, and never really looked back. Now, she is working on Covid-19 recovery and getting community-based tourism in Thailand back on its feet. She did not spend a long time deciding whether or not to stay in Thailand, or go back to the States as Covid-19 brakes out. Her heart is in Thailand.
Lindsey tells the Covid-19 situation in Thailand is very stable. With about 4000 cases (end of nov 2020) and only a few new cases each day it is under control. The new cases arrive with people entering the country. They are quickly being quarantined, traced and the spread is being stopped before it moves any further.
From March, the government reacted quickly to enforce restriction and with a population that actually listened, they slowly got the situation under control. Per today, november 2020, it is almost back to normal, at least in rural Thailand. Domestic travel is starting to move, and when international travel opens up again, rural Thailand is a good place to go for a Covid-19 safer and transformational travel.
What impact does covid-19 have on a homestay experience?
The homestay experience in Ban Talae Nok came together after the tsunami in Thailand, 2004. It already says a lot about the resilience in the community. As a community-based tourism project, the village invites tourists to their home and village to give an experience on their premises. It is based on high value interaction between host and guest. And, as a guest you get to take part in the daily life of the villagers. It is small-scale tourism, at locals’ own wish of offering the experience.
Lindsey explains; tourism was never meant to be their main source of income. It is a supplement, and based on their own wish to open up their homes. It is not only for the extra income, but also the cultural exchange and meeting new people from all over the world. It is about meaningful host and guest encounters and they equally enjoy the interaction.
Now that Covid-19 puts the breaks on international tourism, the villagers have simply continued their normal way of living. As it is when they do not have visitors. Their simple way of life living off the land, sea, natural resources with mangroves where they can still go out and get essentials like food, makes it all possible. This is how it has been through generations.
Luckily, there have not been many covid-19 cases in the area. This may be due to the remoteness of Ban Talae Nok and its surrounding area with a lot of nature. People are not passing by and by nature there is not much close interaction between larger groups of people. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty. How long will this last?
The video below was made by GLP Films as part of #TourismStrong Series, where Rob Holmes is checking in with Lindsey and their situation as a Thailand Homestay Experience, Andaman Coast.
Covid-19 Restriction put in place
The nature of the location of Ban Talae Nok, and many community-based experiences is the remoteness. It automatically caters for many rules and regulations in terms of distance, being outside and staying in smaller groups. There are not many people passing through, and few people living in the villages.
To add on this, our local partner that supply Ban Talae Nok experience has also been certified by the Amazing Thailand Safety & Health Administration; SHA as a Covid- 19 Safe Tour Operator. This means that they have implemented safe practices to ensure guests and local partners are Covid-19 safe experiences. This is a certification scheme that was launched by the Tourism Authority in Thailand early on (May 2020) as a “certification aimed at elevating the country’s tourism industry standards and developing confidence among international and domestic tourists.”
Five key areas are covered in the evaluation process for the SHA certificate:
- Applicants must strictly follow the Covid-19 control guidelines from the Ministry of Public Health.
- Tourist attractions and facilities must be safe and have strategies in place that ensure tourist safety. At the same time, local culture should be respected with interaction between local communities and tourists.
- Hygiene and sanitation in tourism establishments including hotels, home-stays, souvenir shops and restaurants.
- Clean and safe links between communities and attractions and health and safety standards to cover transportation (including private cars, public buses and airlines).
- Trained staff at tourist venues to ensure tourist safety and security.
It does give confidence that the country, with its experiences, are prepared for tourism to bounce back better!
One last note
Places like Ban Talae Nok are hidden gems. What we see is resilience, and it will be those destinations that will survive and build back quicker, and stronger than ever. They were not dependent on tourism in the first place.
To get a glimpse of community-based tourism and the village pleasantly situated by a beautiful stretch of undeveloped beach along the Andaman Coast, Ban Talae Nok, take a look at the video below also from GLP Films and be inspired.
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