Lamai Homestay and Guesthouse and Tours, Thailand
LAMAI HOMESTAY, THAILAND
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM POLICY
Lamai Homestay has been set up in a traditional rice village in rural Isan, in the north-east of Thailand. It was built, and is run, by Jimmy, a Welshman and Lamai who was born in the village and whose family still live there. Currently, only around 5% of Thailand ‘s tourists visit Isan, ensuring that the inhabitants still enjoy a traditional way of life. In line with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, we are implementing our new Responsible Tourism Policy under the following headings:
Assessment and Management of Wildlife:
We constantly strive to protect and re-generate the indigenous flora and fauna in the development of the homestay garden and the village canal-bank organic gardens. We plant trees and shrubs to encourage birds to nest, lizards, reptiles, beetles, butterflies etc. to find shelter.
We encourage local children to respect wildlife and to protect birds’ nests etc. They are advised not to keep any wildlife in captivity.
Visitors are also requested not to purchase rare fish, turtles, birds, snakes etc. – alive or dead! Our food-foraging trips involve the capture of wildlife which is eaten by the village people and which are all plentiful and replenishable in the local environment.
Management of cultural heritage:
We ensure that our visitors receive the relevant information to help them to respect local cultures, – the Isan traditions, their religion and heritage. Buddhist customs and traditions are explained and visits to village homes and Buddhist and Hindu temples are accompanied by Lamai at all times. Attendance at religious festivals, funerals, weddings etc. in the local village is arranged in agreement with the hosts. Appropriate clothing is mandatory at all times.
Use of vehicles is restricted as much as possible by sharing with others and by multi-tasking during trips. Visitors are encouraged to travel to the homestay by public transport from where they will be picked up by Jimmy and Lamai.
Air-conditioning is offered in only two of our rooms and visitors are requested to keep its use to a minimum and to turn it off when away on trips. Lighting is kept to a minimum with only one external light at night.
There is only one communal TV in the family lounge and one refrigerator for cold drinks.
All chemicals are biodegradable. Shampoo, soap etc. is not provided in individual rooms and visitors are encouraged to buy locally made products available in the market. Paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, tins are all re-cycled. People from the village collect on a regular basis. Much of the waste is re-cycled into saleable products, e.g. bottles into ornaments, tins into lamps etc. Vegetable waste is composted.
Social and Economic benefits:
We are constantly looking for new ways to benefit the local communities. All food is sourced locally, all craft demonstrations and activities involve the village inhabitants, and all visitors are encouraged to buy gifts made in the local community. We employ local people to demonstrate crafts, – silk-making, basket-weaving, mat-making, food-foraging etc. on a rotating basis so that everyone can benefit financially. Many of these people will be female – mothers with small children, pregnant women, elderly or disabled women – those who are unable to work in the rice fields. They are able to carry out this work in their own homes without disturbing their daily life.
They are paid a daily rate in line with the Thai government minimum wages for the province.
Local people are never at risk of exploitation as all visitors are accompanied at all times by Lamai. Children under the age of 16 are not employed at any time. Visitors are requested to be very sensitive in their treatment of children and to report to Lamai the behaviour of any tourist which could be construed as exploitative in any way.
Suggested Code of Ethics for visitors:
- The gardens and the house have been designed to provide nesting places for many varieties of small birds, butterflies, beetles, ghekos, toads, treefrogs, bats etc.
- Please feel free to take photographs/video but it would be much appreciated if you could avoid handling the wildlife.
- The village inhabitants are very traditional and certain forms of behaviour can offend them. When visiting locals in their homes, it would be appreciated if you could avoid displays of affection, aggressive behaviour, over-indulgence in alcohol and the wearing of inappropriate clothing. Footwear is normally removed before entering the houses.
- The rice-farmers of Isan are generally poor but they are very proud and independent. The best way to help them is to buy their products and use their services.
- Water is precious in Isan. To facilitate the survival of the garden, we channel all grey water into a piped irrigation system and we collect rain water in earthenware tubs. Ways in which visitors can help conserve the water are: keep the number of clothes washes to a minimum; minimise the length of time under the shower, use grey water to wash down shoes, bicycles etc.
- To reduce consumption of electricity, we use long-life bulbs in all rooms, we avoid unnecessary outdoor lighting, particularly after 10pm, and we have only two air-con rooms. In addition, we have avoided the provision of TV, minibar, and stereo in individual rooms. These are provided in the communal lounge. Visitors who turn off the fan and lights when they leave their rooms will be much appreciated.
- Please do not take photographs of the local children without checking with Lamai beforehand that it is acceptable and appropriate.
- Please note that the above are not fixed rules, – they are suggestions for the smooth integration of tourists into village life. There will never be more than six tourists at any one time and it is easy to be accepted into the families’ lives. This makes for a truly memorable experience.