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Guests generally were happy to know that their patronage contributed to mean-ingful causes, like the construction of new schools forthe local community, the restoration of coral reefs,and the longevity of local village crafts.Involving the Local CommunityIn addition to engaging local craftsmen to produceindigenous art and handicrafts for sale at its gal-leries, Banyan Tree also involved the local commu-nity in all aspects of its business, even as the resortswere being built. Villas were constructed with asmuch indigenous material as possible, most of whichwas supplied by local traders. Traditional arts andhandicrafts that complemented the villas’ aestheticswere also purchased from local artisans.The company believed in building profitableresorts that would benefit the surroundingenvironment and contribute to local economiesthrough the creation of employment and communityEXHIBIT 7:Guests Participate in Planting Corals at Banyan Tree Maldivesand Angsana Ihuru
460Case 4 • Banyan Tree Hotels & Resortsdevelopment projects. Thus, besides providing employment for the local community,the company brought business to the local farmers and traders by making it a point topurchase fresh produce from them. Whenever possible, the company supported otherregional tourism ventures that would benefit the wider local community and enhancethe visitor’s experience. The Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Laboratory is a prime ex-ample: it is the first fully equipped private research facility to be fully funded and op-erated by a resort. The lab seeks to lead conservation efforts in the Maldives to protectand regenerate coral and marine life for the future of the tourism industry as well as topromote awareness and education of this field to the local community.Recognizing that the disparity in lifestyles and living standards between guestsand the local community might create a sense of alienation within the local community,a community relations department was set up to develop and manage community out-reach programs. After consultations with community stakeholders, a number of fund-ing scholarships for needy children were given, a school and child care center werebuilt, lunches and parties for the elderly were hosted, and local cultural and religiousactivities were supported.One of BTHR’s formalized programs was Seedlings, which aimed to help youngadults from local communities and motivate them and provide the means for complet-ing their education to successfully enter the labor force as adults. This program benefit-ted the community at large as it provided the next generation with educationalopportunities and to break the poverty cycle.2Growing Banyan TreeIn 2002, BTHR took over the management of a city hotel in the heart of Bangkokfrom Westin Hotel Company. The hotel was rebranded as Banyan Tree Bangkok,after extensive renovation works were completed to upgrade the hotel’s facilitiesand build new additional spa amenities and a Banyan Tree Gallery. This was the