Dr Ruckphon was at the Merlin Hotel in Phuket Town on Tuesday (October 30) to discuss sustainable tourism measures for Phuket.
He told those present at the meeting there was a “lack of a distinguishable culture” that would make encourage visitors to come to Phuket to see something other than “sea, sun and sand”.
When you compare Phuket to other top tourist destinations such as Hawaii, Indonesia and Mexico you can see that they have strong cultural ties as well as pristine beaches and coastal attractions, he said.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Phuket ranks number 15th in the world when it comes to top tourist destinations.
Dr Ruckphon told The Phuket News he wants to put a stop to local Phuketians selling their property and moving away from the island due to the increased cost of living.
“This allows for more foreign companies to come in and set up large, profitable organisations such as chain hotels. These hotels are looking to keep their hotel guests spending solely inside the comforts of the hotel grounds. This money obtained from tourists goes straight into the hands of foreigners, with Phuket not benefiting from it.”
Dr Ruckphon wants Phuket to be able to sustain itself in the long run.
For this to happen he talks about educating the people that are directly in contact with tourists on a daily basis, such as tour guides, front desk agents, and restaurant owners.
He encourages these people to “actively seek ways of reducing the carbon footprint on the island”.
“This does not mean we all need to turn to eco-tourism, but we need to be able to find a way to preserve famous places like James Bond island, and Koh Panyee – two places that seem to deteriorate each year.
“Locals have not seen the significance of these natural formations, so they try to swindle tourists’ money and charge them exorbitant prices. Then the locals leave rubbish and constructed shop fronts behind when new unheard of islands are explored and found.”
Dr Ruckphon wants to see Phuket people “take more pride in the longstanding Hokkien and Sino-Portuguese culture” so in the future it can be recognised as a Unesco world heritage site.