Every few weeks, a new luxury hotel in Phuket opens, a sign of the booming tourism industry in the island and the country. That same tourism industry, however, brings plastic and pollution, so much of it, that hoteliers on the island have banded together to fight back.
Today, many of the island’s shores are packed with tourists and their trash, particularly during high season. Trash like plastic bags are now floating in the ocean, which has lead to huge efforts to conserve the island’s marine life and natural beauty that were responsible for bringing in tourists in the first place.
Trisara Managing Director and President of the Phuket Hotel Association Anthony Lark, came to the island 31 years ago, opening one of the earliest luxury hotel in Phuket, and he described the island as the quiet, deserted and pristine.
The negative impact brought on by mass tourism across the world have been making headlines in recent years. Back in 2017, people living in Barcelona and Venice had enough and took to the streets to protest against mass tourism.
In Southeast Asia, tourism has also been felt. Officials were recently forced to close the Maya beach indefinitely to visitors. The bay, which became popular thanks to the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, was closed in June for four months thanks to environmental damage brought in by tourism. The hope was that the ecosystem should’ve recovered, but a government survey noted that the damage was actually worse than originally thought.
To fight back against the pollution, the Phuket Hotel Association and its members have banded together in order to cut down on their island as one of the few first steps to conserve and preserve Phuket. Educational programmes with local communities, as well as campaigns promoting responsible tourism are being rolled out.
All of the members of the PHA have also agreed to phase out single-use plastic and implement plans in order to stop the use of plastic water bottles and straws by 2019. Lark’s 40-villa resort used to send approximately 250,000 plastic bottles to landfills, but, now, the resort now uses reusable glass bottles.
IHG Director of Corporate Responsibility for Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Greater China, Michael Blanding, says that the discussions are already ongoing and never-ending, but someone has to start somewhere.