The Ecotourism Training Center is proud of its many accomplishments and invites the Press to inquire about the highlights of the program during the 1st year Tsunami Commemoration Ceremonies in Khao Lak, southern Thailand on 26 December, 2005

KHAO LAK, THAILAND -- 21 December 2005: In addition to providing immediate employment and expert vocational training to 17 young Thai men and women who were deeply affected by the Tsunami Disaster, the ETC program has risen from tragedy to become a comprehensive recovery project for the whole area. It’s a compelling story of grass roots relief and what two individuals can accomplish by sheer will and determination, and what resilience lies in the Thai participants to have returned love and protect the sea which took everything from them, but now promises them hope and a good future as professional undersea guides. Here are the highlights:

*The ETC has performed an extensive 37-dive undersea survey and taken a lead role in coastal clean-up activities, preparing the area for the return of tourism and making the area safe and beautiful. The work has been commissioned by CHARM (Coastal Habitat and Resources Management) and also funded in part by Project Aware, the sister foundation of PADI. The official report and presentation is available to all media professionals.

*The ETC has trained its students in Emergency Medical procedures and through the help of Bangkok Phuket Hospital, certified each student in basic CPR, Oxygen Provision, and field treatment for hazardous marine life injuries.

*Top ETC students and staff have recently trained 10 Thai Marine Police Officers in underwater search and recovery techniques in conjunction with the French Red Cross.

*Discovery Channel broadcast a documentary film on Dec 15 2005 featuring the ETC program and student to an audience of 80 Million Viewers. Produced by Fredrick Rendina, the film is titled “Turning the Tide” Tsunami Volunteers.

*PATA foundation has just granted USD $5000 to help the ETC afford its own dive compressor. The equipment will not only save the program money, but will also allow the student to learn new skills. They will be given professional training in the operation and maintenance of the compressor by Dive Supply of Chalong Bay.

*MCI Communications has recently granted USD $14,000 to the ETC for operational capital from the remainder of contributions given by MCI employees worldwide.

*The ETC has been fully approved for support by the French Red Cross. The Proposal includes the ability to reapply for funding each year and will cover 60% of the entire annual budget for the program.

*The ETC has met with the Provincial Governor of Phang-Nga Province and requested endorsement for an application to become a registered Thai Non-Profit Foundation. The Governor has agreed pending receipt of a letter of support from the Head of the French Red Cross. Attorney Sam Fauma of Phuket Inter-Law, has offer to prepare the legal documents as a donated contribution to the program.

*The ETC has announced plans to build a permanent training facility and community environmental education meeting area. The building will be designed as a model for environmentally sustainable building practices and offer community workshops and educational seminars on new environmental technologies and practices.

The Ecotourism Training Center, located in Khuk Khak, Phang Nga, Thailand, is a long-term tsunami recovery project providing immediate employment and vocational career training to young Thai adults in tsunami-affected communities. ETC’s clean up activities are sponsored in part by Project Aware.

For more information see:

Reid Ridgway
Managing Director
Ecotourism Training Center
Mobile:  66 (0) 7263 6016
Office: 076-420-258
Fax: 076-420-362

67/7 Soi Had Baan Bang Niang
Moo # 5, Pechakacem Road
Tamboon Khuk Khak, Amphur Takuapa
Phang Nga Province, 82190