Last week saw the first major forum on sustainable tourism hosted by the Phuket Hotels Association (PHA). The PHA, which is a consortium of 65 hotels across the island, joined ranks to form Phuket
Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism (PHIST) over three years ago, and as a more powerful group have dragged government departments and corporate businesses into the debate and pushed for scalable and sustainable solutions.
In July this year the island hosted a Coastal Marine Conservation event including practices and workshops with hoteliers and conservation groups such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Core to the IUCN’s work with industries in Thailand is the Bio-Diversity Network Alliance (B-DNA), which is a multi-stakeholder platform, bringing companies together to protect life below water and on land in line with the region’s specific biodiversity.
All of this positive activity critically needs the ongoing support and promotion by the Thai authorities. A committed strategy and incentive program needs to permeate from local level and education through to wider industry practices and enforcements.
The rather blasé approach in recent years sadly leads to a lack of enthusiasm from a number of small and family run tourism businesses and hotels to take appropriate action. Let’s be honest, it’s the small businesses that get hit hardest financially by bringing in ecological and sustainable alternatives to current practices.
Margins are smaller, and they are cynical unless they see working examples and support by the industry leaders and policy makers. And this independent sector of the industry is absolutely critical to have on board to reach a tipping point in the attitudes of both locals and tourists to hold a personal responsibility and even individual pride in their own recycling efforts and footprint as a consumer.
Everyone needs to be involved, at every beach and in every room on the island if we’re to stand a fighting chance.