This sole declaration, if made, has the potential to supercharge every positive measure aimed at preserving this paradise ever suggested by the people who recognise its unique natural significance and have sought to protect it.
Environmentalists could more easily drive support for conservation projects, such as the excellent ongoing collaboration between Phuket’s dive tour industry and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) to restore and revive coral reefs that have suffered damage from poorly regulated tourism.
Tour businesses can scale down the volume of tourists being lugged to sites such as Maya Bay at Phi Phi Island, and increase their rates accordingly for the chance to see a world-renowned natural wonder.
Local residents born and raised along the coast and on the islands offshore can continue to take pride in the beautiful part of the world they have the privilege of calling home.
Declaring this area a World Heritage Site would ramp up pride, encourages better tourism practices and places greater emphasis on everyone who lives or operates a business here to take better care of the environment.
This includes the notorious fishing fleets, greedy individual developers and even international hotel chains that quietly take advantage of not having to comply with Western legal standards to operate hotels in Thailand – while still charging guests rates that are “competitive” in the global tourism market.
Pride, and its other face, shame, are powerful motivators in today’s world. In an age where social media posts are beamed instantly around the planet for all the world to see, it seems they are often more effective at motivating action to preserve the environment.
We can no longer depend on the high-minded laws and goodwill publicity stunts that continue to fail us and the environment miserably as they are eviscerated by corruption, cronyism and ignorance.
Any further destruction of this proposed World Heritage Area deserves public shaming and the prospect of public humiliation, or “losing face”, can move mountains for Thais and foreigners alike.
Phang Nga Bay and Thailand’s Andaman coast became the unique and magnificent environment that we see today over millions, if not billions, of years. But with mankind ruling the planet, it will take much less time to destroy it, unless the better angels of our nature intervene.
World Heritage Site… let it be.