Phuket Opinion: Looking to the wrong example?
PHUKET: The island of Racha Yai, some 24 km from Phuket, attracts around 1,200 day-trippers from Phuket every day during the high season. Some spend the night, while others stay just for the day, snorkelling or scuba diving, or walking or lounging on the beautiful sands before returning.
Thursday 12 July 2012, 08:57AM
While there, they also visit restaurants and toilets, deposit their trash and, of course, put extra pressure on the tiny island’s water resources and infrastructure.
The news that, after six months of lobbying and pleas, the inhabitants of Racha Yai were finally graced with a visit from Phuket authorities raises a more serious and wider question: At what point must Phuket – including Racha Yai – stop trying to accommodate more visitors and concern itself instead with taking care of its regular visitors and the people already living here?
On the visit to Racha Yai, officials were greeted with piles of garbage, landfills, polluted water and complaints of land encroachment. Sound familiar?
Many Racha Yai locals blame “unmanaged tourism”. Again, one has to ask whether Phuket itself has “managed tourism”. We certainly have many tour companies, but how ethically or environmentally aware they are is largely left to them to decide.
Steps are being taken. After numerous false starts and delays, Phuket’s new incinerator – while perhaps not the best solution – is finally ready to deal with as much trash as we are making every day.
But every dry season we discover again that Phuket’s water supply runs dry in many areas. The solution is simple: make use of what we have in abundance in our other season – rain. But very few companies or individuals seem inclined to install rain water tanks to take advantage of the bounty that is delivered to them free. And no one in government is encouraging this.
Another thing we have in abundance is plastic bags... Managed? Not yet.
Yes, it’s great news that the inhabitants of Racha Yai finally received a visit from Phuket authorities, though one does wonder just how much they will learn from them.