In marking World Oceans Day on Wednesday (June 8), Mr Vorawut drove home several key points about marine conservation that have not been heard as loud for quite some time – especially about how important it is for Phuket.
Further, Mr Vorawut was able to have the event broadcast to more than 30 countries worldwide so people could see what was happening in Patong. He understood that not only do you have to tell Thai people what needs to be done, they’ve heard it all before, but if you want to convince foreigners that you are taking an issue seriously, you have to show foreigners that you are telling Thai people – and show them the results.
Protecting the environment has been bandied about by leading Thai figures for so long it has become nothing more than a fashion statement. Yet the results have been obvious. Trash is still left strewn in popular areas, left for someone else to clean up. Garbage and wastewater is still dumped into natural waterways. Not fouling the environment has yet to be understood as a personal responsibility. The answer to that is simple. It’s no secret: very rarely do people suffer any consequences for their polluting behaviour.
Mr Vorawut made it very clear how much preserving Phuket’s natural environment means; it means billions of baht in tourism income each year. This point he made in a town that depends on tourism, and where the local economy has been battered so badly battered by COVID some people still queue for food. This the world now already knows.
As we keep repeating: if we want tourists to come back, we have to give them a reason – and the natural beauty of the region has long been the top reason for coming to Phuket and the surrounding area.
Major tourism destinations around the world have already successfully tackled this problem decades ago with a simple two-prong strategy: public garbage bins must be placed in popular areas and emptied regularly, even frequently if needed; and fines must be levied on people found littering.
If officials are even slightly serious about keeping Phuket beautiful, this is all that is required – at least for the trash problem. They might suddenly find they will not need to stage their ‘Big Cleaning Days’ so often.