The affirmation came at the association’s members meeting at the Twin Palms resort last Wednesday (Aug 30), where it was announced that members will continue with their island-wide cleanup campaign, punctuated with a Hearts with Hands, Keep Phuket Clean beach clean-up event on Saturday, Sept 16.
The association’s Environmental & Sustainability Working Group recently launched the island-wide initiative in support of the International Coastal Clean Up Campaign, which will see millions of volunteers across the globe unite to fight ocean pollution.
The event is fully supported and endorsed by the local government along with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and member hotels are championing individual beaches by sponsoring equipment and supplies for volunteers.
Phuket Hotels Association President Anthony Lark will be joined by Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office Director Kanokkittika Kritwutikon to officially open the event at Karon Beach, where the clean up will be overseen by staff from Le Meridien and Hilton Arcadia hotels.
“We are focused on three main areas: Phuket branding, local education and environmental protection. By cleaning up our beaches we are promoting Phuket as a global beach destination brand, we are also educating local communities, tourists and island businesses on the need to take care of the island’s natural assets, and we are preserving the environmental health of the ocean,” Mr Lark explained.
Plastic is choking the world’s seas and putting marine life in danger. Some 46,000 items of debris now occupy every square mile of ocean and plastic is found in 62% of all sea birds and 100% of sea turtle species tested after their demise, the Phuket Hotels Association noted in announcing the clean-up drive.
The Phuket Hotels Association recognises the need for action and is lobbying local community groups, schools, residents, expatriates and tourists to join forces and clean up garbage from the beaches around the island before it reaches the sea, it added.
The association has over 60 members comprising small boutique hotels to large international chains who have joined together to promote the island as Brand Phuket, to raise money to educate local Phuket residents though the association’s scholarship fund, and also assist and educate with the environmental best practices to reduce any harmful impact that tourism has on the island.
To that end, the meeting last Wednesday also saw members drive on with an environmental-awareness training module for hotel staff in English and Thai and confirmed that its “Plastic Ocean documentary” now has Thai subtitles.
The association has reached out to schools, beach clean-up groups, Green Clubs and media for their participation and local municipalities have been requested by Phuket Governor Plodthong to give their full support in manpower and resources.
The meeting also moved forward on the association’s scholarship program and a marketing initiative to promote “good news stories”, with a call from the Marketing Working Group for hotel members to share good news and experiences in their areas, and “not commercially driven stories”.
At the meeting in person, Governor Norraphat noted “I am very happy to learn that there is a unified voice in the hotel industry especially one that pertains to Phuket. I fully support Phuket Hotels Association’s three very strong objectives which are Environment, Education and Destination Marketing (promoting good news stories).
“Today I would like to take the opportunity to share with you some of my top priorities this year. In line with the Phuket Hotels Association's objectives, Environment - going green and taking care of our environment stays very close to my heart. I fully support and endorse the next project carried out by the association to Clean-Up Phuket Beaches in honour of the International Coastal Clean-Up Day on 16 September.
“To share with you our recent beach clean-up in Rassada, the staggering statistic at the end of the three-hour clean-up was unimaginable. We weighed the rubbish collected and it came up to 3,500 kilos! I hope to achieve in my position of Governor to see Phuket free of plastic, clean streets free of rats and continue to prosper the status of a Gastronomic city by Unesco.
“Phuket is one of the most visited destinations in Thailand and it helps collectively as one we promote and share good news stories of Phuket,” he said.