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Phuket Opinion: Stand up and be counted

PHUKET: After years of local groups raising environmental issues, and the efforts of many individuals across the island to clean up our beaches, it seems that the tide is finally changing with the much needed, but rather tardy support from local government officials and the tourism authorities to address a sustainability program and future for Phuket’s groaning land mass and reefs.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 7 October 2018, 10:16AM

By 2050, there will be as much plastic as fish in our oceans. Photo: AFP

By 2050, there will be as much plastic as fish in our oceans. Photo: AFP

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.



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BenPendejo | 07 October 2018 - 18:20:01

Well, I guess it is good that a few people are thinking about this, but there remains a deep misunderstanding as to what real sustainability is all about. It goes beyond hotels buying paper straws and having recycling bins. It is virtually impossible to practice sustainability in a place where there is little awareness or concern throughout society, and about ZERO support from government.

alf | 07 October 2018 - 13:48:17

I know a retired guy who used to clean some part of the beach close to his home. He was arrested and fined by RTP because he did so without a work permit. Talk about support from authorities...

ppkiwis | 07 October 2018 - 13:24:22

Many hotels could install water coolers in their rooms, or use glass bottles instead of plastic.
Some hotel rooms on Koh Lipe even provide the stainless steel Trash Hero bottles which can be refilled from a water cooler on the properties, and even used by tourists when they leave the property to refill in various filling areas in town, we bought our own and use it daily.

Kurt | 07 October 2018 - 11:08:20

Yes, indeed! Local groups, individuals, volunteers, actually showing their worries and involve themselve about (Phuket) environment. But it is a big secret what the Government is doing about 'Environment'. It gets not more visible involved than just activate volunteer cleaning, with providing plastic bags, t-shirts, caps and a photo session, showing that cleaning is 'extra ordinary'...

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