The greater project proposed for the area, located along Klong Tha Chin (pronounced “tah jeen”), aims to cover more than 1,234 rai of unspoilt mangroves. That is not a small slice of land.
The site sits on the north side of the crossing to Koh Siray, an area long known for its very heavy marine pollution. Ratsada Municipality itself only last December reported a new boat fitted with a scoop, provided by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), clearing 1.5 tonnes of floating trash from the canal.
It appears that the level of pollution in the area has inspired Ratsada Mayor Nakarin Yosangrat, backed by the DMCR and the Phuket Mangrove Forest Resource Management Center, to do something about it.
It takes very little to keep an ecotourism attraction fit for tourists wanting to enjoy nature; all you have to do is leave it alone. Yet successfully achieving that simple task has been found lacking in key tourist areas elsewhere across the island.
Having the mangrove forest along Klong Tha Chin designated a tourism eco-tourism attraction ups the ante to protect the area, as keeping the area clean will rely on one of the most powerful motivators in the country: shame.
Thai tourists enjoy nature and travel their country to indulge and experience it. Nature tourism was a growing domestic tourism market for years before COVID-19, and was the first domestic travel segment to be promoted as travel options became more popular after the Delta wave of infections passed last year.
However, even before the pandemic, Phuket was starting to lose its lustre even among Thai tourists, not just for Phuket’s high prices, but also for its diminishing natural attractiveness. As everyone has seen in the past few years, an increasing number of Thais are not afraid of posting online exactly what they see. Foreign tourists are no different.
With the support of the DMCR and the Phuket Mangrove Forest Resource Management Center, Ratsada Municipality does not have to go it alone in maintaining the area. Also, having the site recognised as a tourism attraction loosens the purse strings from tourism authorities, allowing for better protection from encroachers, and polluters.
The move is an excellent initiative by Ratsada Mayor Nakarin and deserves support. Other municipalities would do well to follow suit.