Some 546 Thai and foreign tourists took up the offer at Maesa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district, which has struggled to survive during the last two years of Covid-19.
“We scrapped the entry fee for the camp in June 2020, and cancelled all elephant shows and elephant riding to ensure that all 70 of our animals here live close to their natural habitat,” said Maesa’s owner Anchalee Kalmaphichit on Thursday. The camp has also responded to complaints from animal welfare activists by reportedly unshackling all of its elephants. Visitors are now getting the benefit of this more compassionate and natural approach.
“After the government approved interprovincial travel this Songkran, we organised several activities where tourists can interact with elephants. These include feeding them and washing them in the creek to help the big animals fight the summer heat,” she added.
To compensate for the lack of earnings from entry fees, the camp switched to selling platters of fruit to feed the elephants at 100 baht each. It also has a coffee shop and booths selling souvenirs made by hilltribe people living in the North.
“During 2020-2021, we suffered over 80 million baht in losses due to a drop in visitor numbers during the Covid-19 outbreak, despite waiving the entry fee,” said Anchalee. “However, after travel restrictions were lifted earlier this year, the camp has seen an increase in visitors, bringing hope that we can become a tourist hotspot again.”
Published : April 15, 2022
By : THE NATION