On this occasion, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Gen Surasak Kanjanarat, participated in the event along with Phuket Vice Governor Dr Prajiad Aksornthammakul and parties. The event welcomed the Honorary Chairperson of The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, Mrs Katherine Heinecke, and the executive management team of Marriott International, Mr Carl Hudson, Area Vice President of Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan and Mr Oriol Montal, General Manager of JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa.
The successful event was a great opportunity to officially launch the grand opening of The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, also known as the turtle shelter and education centre, opening its doors to the public as well as marking the special occasion of the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Conservation Declaration signing ceremony among 10 hospitality operators, and three government sectors including Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas, Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao, Dvaree Mai Khao Beach, Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao, JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, Maikhao Dream Villa Resort and Spa Phuket, Marriott Vacation Club Resort, Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa, Sala Phuket Resort & Spa, Baan Maikhao Phuket by Sansiri, Mai Khao Subdistrict Administrative Organisation, Phuket Marine Biological Centre, Sirinath National Park and Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation. A total of 19 turtle were released back to the Andaman Sea as a significant gesture of the special occasion.
“I am very honoured to be here today to represent the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation at the Turtle Shelter and Education Center Grand Opening. I was personally involved with this project when it started 14 years ago when we had a very large leatherback come and lay her eggs in front of the hotel during the hotel opening time, I am very happy to report that she was back again last year laying more eggs. Together with the PMBC, IUCN, our partners and local community we have spent 14 years protecting the turtles of Mai Khao and educating people about their plight.
“We are very excited to have signed a new ‘Turtle Declaration for Mai Khao’ and will be working with all of the hotels in Mai Khao in a strategic manner to further positively impact the conservation of turtle and the amazing beauty of this natural area we call Mai Khao.
“The private sector partners are working closely together to sustain this project financially long term so that we can continue to welcome nesting turtles back to Mai Khao.
“We are hugely proud and excited about the opening of our on-site turtle and education center where we can share our resident turtles with the community, guests and schools,” said Ms Heinecke.
Declaration of Marine Turtle Conservation at Mai Khao Beach
1) The association realises the state of the threatened marine turtles at Mai Khao Beach and is also aware of how important turtle conservation is. Thus, it initiates a joint action for the restoration of Mai Khao Beach as marine turtles’ habitat and nesting site in Thailand and the region.
2) The association will abide by an ecofriendly strategic effort for the marine turtle and its environment upon the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources’ code of conduct of turtle nesting ground management and also the Indian Ocean South East Asia’s MoU.
3) Hospitality operators will promote and create the economic mechanism to support marine turtle conservation activity at Mai Khao Beach.
4) Local authorities will promote and support the participation of the public for the preservation of relevant local traditional culture regarding the marine turtles at Mai Khao Beach.
5) Sirinath National Park performs an effective protection for the marine turtle’s nesting site and habitat and promotes the participation of owners for turtle conservation and management in its own property.
6) Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) is doing scientific research, monitoring and assessing the status of marine turtles at Mai Khao Beach as well as providing technical advice to the association.
7) Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation is acting as a coordinator in promoting and supporting collaboration among the associations.
Under this declaration, the association will conduct an annual meeting to stimulate Mai Khao turtle conservation programme into an evident success.