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Hold tourists and guides responsible for coral damage, says Phuket poll

Hold tourists and guides responsible for coral damage, says Phuket poll

PHUKET: A clear majority of respondents to a recent online poll by The Phuket News has seen a call for both the tourists themselves and their tour guides be charged for damaging coral where their activities have caused obvious harm to the key tourist eco-attractions in the region.

opinionnatural-resourcesmarinecrimeenvironment
By The Phuket News

Monday 10 April 2017, 03:35PM


Heavy tourism traffic has caused much damage to the coral reefs at Racha Yai Island, south of Phuket. Photo: DMCR

Heavy tourism traffic has caused much damage to the coral reefs at Racha Yai Island, south of Phuket. Photo: DMCR

The question came to the fore after coral preservation efforts at key tourist dive sites and coral reef attractions for day-trippers in and around Phuket were ramped up to the ridiculous and shift target from the tourists themselves to the tour guides and tour companies that lead them.

The drive began in earnest in late January, when officials from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) Phuket office posted signs at Koh Racha Yai’s three main bays warning tour guides and tourists of the consequences of breaking marine conservation rules. (See story here.)

After a couple of “misunderstandings”, Chinese tourist Huang Yongjia, 35, was caught with two baby Parrotfish in a plastic bottle and was charged and fined B100,000 for his infraction. (See story here.)

Officials tried the same with 53-year-old Russian tourist Olga Smirnova, but as she did not have the B100,000, she spent two nights in police lockup while awaiting trial for feeding bread to fish at Racha Yai. (See story here.)

However, after Ms Smirnova’s dire situation, held legal hostage in Thailand while awaiting trial and sentencing of a token fine for her misdemeanour, officials changed tack and started focusing on tour guides and tour operators.

Nonthasak Marine and one of their guides came into question for allegedly breaking off a piece of coral to kill a sea urchin in front of tourists, a claim the company strongly denies, and an illegal guide now stands accused of standing on corals at Koh Racha. (See stories here and here.)

To all this, The Phuket News asked readers, “Who should be held responsible environmental damage – the tourists who break the rules, or the tour guides and the companies that hire them?”

Laguna Golf Phuket

Only 7% of respondents to the poll, which closed at midnight last night (April 9), voted, “Tourists should be held responsible for their own behaviour. If a tourist breaks the rules, he or she is the only one to be held responsible, not the guide.”

A further 29% voted, “Guides should be held fully responsible, not tourists, as it’s the guide’s job to ensure tourists are safe and do not break environmental-protection laws.”

However, an overwhelming majority of 64% of all respondents voted, “Both tourists and their guides should be held responsible, and both should be charged.”

For the full poll results, click here.

If your preferred response was not available, feel free to add it in the comments below.

To see the results of our previous poll, asking “Should Patong night venues stay open later?”, click here.

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Rorii | 12 April 2017 - 16:31:15

Jor12, you get more weird by the day, it is the responsibility of these officials to protect the marine environment,  the damage didn't happen overnight, but hey we forgive you for having trouble understanding. I suspect this post, like so many others, will not be posted.

Jor12 | 11 April 2017 - 20:02:47

Rorii...wrong as usual...read the article properly. Your question as to why Park and marine officials. Just use a bit of common sense. It's like the clowns on here wanting hordes of Police on every corner, picking up EVERY indiscretion, so as to keep down the road toll.  

Bigaresort | 11 April 2017 - 07:20:46

The only real solution would be to ban all tourism for 3 years for Ko Racha Yai and Noi but this is impossible so let them go to hell! I just dont go there anymore and keep the memory as it was 15-20 years ago.There are still other islands out of reach from the greedy day trip companys. Horst 

Rorii | 11 April 2017 - 06:48:59

Why charge tourists, most are unaware of the laws, most areas are not sign posted, and if they are, no in ALL languages, clearly it is the tour guides that take them there, in fact they also, from my experience,  encourage tourist to walk, take etc coral, sometimes  within eyesight of authorities. Why are park and marine officials not stopping tourists BEFORE damage can occur? I guess most of us k...

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