By Kurumi (‘20)
Have you ever thought that your relaxing beach vacation might not be relaxing for the environment?
Phuket, Thailand, is well known as one of the best places with lots of nice beach and forest areas to visit. Therefore, such a big number of tourists come to Phuket and positively impact the local economy. In 2018, almost 12 million people visited Phuket. UK-based market research company Euromonitor International reported it is also ranked in 11th of top 20 visited cities based on 2017 and 2018 travel estimation.
This ranking sounds really good for the local economy. On the other hand, this is considered as a problem for the ecosystem in forest and sea areas. Consequently, they have a negative impact on the environment. Furthermore, human activities cause pollution, soil erosion, loss of natural habitat, and noise.
Now, the economy in Phuket is mainly supported by travel industry, by visitors. There are thousands of beaches and abundant natural areas. However, Phuket doesn’t take many measures for their environmental issues despite the fact that they are insecure. This is not the problem that caused by only tourists, but also locals. They should take care of their hometown more if they would like to continue their business in long term.
According to a management research survey conducted by the Prince of Songkla University, 400 foreign tourists and 400 Thai tourists voted their priority is to see a ‘natural’ beach without buildings, and their second priority is they want to see beaches that are clean without trash. Trash and water quality of Phuket’s beaches are considered badly managed. They also voted in agreement to have better beach management.
However, are there any plans for improvement?
Another thing that we can do is do your research ahead of time because it costs nothing to go online and read about the cultural norms of a place. If you are interested in volunteering to help hold activities to clean up trash, foam, and polluting materials, you can research “Smart Beach Project”. People can register and report beach pollution through the Smart Beach Project website in Thai and English.
Whatever your summer vacation plans, enjoy them within the bounds of common sense. Be aware that your visit and big number of people visiting the islands can put huge pressure on the area. Try and leave the place better than when you arrived.