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Go-Eco Phuket dives for biggest reef cleanup in world

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Go-Eco Phuket dives for biggest reef cleanup in world | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Qualifiers keep dropping with Go-Eco Phuket as the environmental group prepares for its official launch on September 30 with the biggest reef cleanup of any kind in the world.

“On September 30, the eyes of the world will be attracted to Phuket,” Tony Andrews, Thailand’s West coast PADI Regional Manager and Project AWARE Ambassador, said at a press conference with Phuket government officials at Kata Beach Resort today.

The Go-Eco Phuket, PADI and Project AWARE-sponsored “Dive Against Debris” event has 14 PADI dive boats and more than 450 participants signed up to sweep the reefs off Koh Racha Noi, Koh Racha Yai, Phi Phi Island, Koh Khao Nok and Koh Hei (“Coral Island”) clean of marine debris.

Of those participants, more than 280 are divers prepared to tackle the underwater debris, while the rest have volunteered to either help as snorkelers or with beach cleanups on Koh Racha Noi.

“The government officials were interested as soon as we met them. They thought it was a great idea and were proud of the dive companies and community,” Narong Chaimo, who acted as liaison between Thai officials and the Go-Eco Phuket group, told the Phuket Gazette today

More than 12 government offices and departments have pledged support for the project, from Chalong Municipality providing waste management for all the debris from the pier to the Royal Thai Navy sending three warships to maintain a perimeter to protect divers from speedboats that frequent the islands.

“We are pleased to help by disposing of the rubbish from the pier,” Chalong Mayor Samran Jindaphol said.

Once the rubbish is brought up from the reef it will be sorted into categories, such as fishing nets, plastics and so on, so it can be accurately documented, explained Mr Andrews.

“Go-Eco Phuket’s goal is to safely remove the debris from the reefs and beaches of Phuket and other surrounding islands,” Mr Andrews said.

The long-term goal of the event is to mobilize divers from around to the world to the return the surrounding reefs to a clean, healthy state.

“We had a strong dream of making the reefs of Phuket and the surrounding islands clean, pristine and sustainable, and making sure they belong in the top diving destinations in Thailand and the world,” Mr Andrews said.

Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan, Commander of the Navy Third Area Command at their base at Cape Panwa, pointed out that when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra previously visited the island, she had made it clear that eco-tourism was a must for Phuket.

“One of my priorities is to help [support eco-tourism efforts], and this project goes hand in hand with PM Yingluck’s vision of improving tourism and our country,” he said.

“Everyone is glad that Thais and foreigners have so much interest in the local environment,” he added.

During the meeting, a spokesperson for the Phuket Marine Biological Center highlighted to government officials the problem of “ghost fishing”.

Ghost fishing happens when nets become snagged on corals and are left behind by fishermen, but continue to catch and kill marine animals, he explained.

“These nets effect the entire development of reef system,” he said.

Noting that the issue of marine debris was a global concern, he said, “We hope we can show the world that Phuket can do it [cleanup the coral reefs], so it can be done everywhere else, too.”

The meeting also provided a forum for officials concerned about the current conditions of the marine ecosystem around Phuket.

“We will try to instigate a system to regulate and prevent boats from dumping rubbish,” a spokesperson for the Marine Department office in Phuket offered.

Pamuke Achariyachai, of event sponsor Kata Beach Group, invited the public to put forward more ideas to promote eco-tourism on the island.

“We will always support local events like this… should there be any other ideas for eco-tourism, the Kata Group would be interested in helping,” he said.

“We can show the world that Phuket is on the map for diving,” Mr Andrews said.

“But it’s really about what happens after September 30,” Mr Andrews added.

On September 30, registration for the event will start at 7:30am at the new marina building on Chalong Pier.

At 8am, Governor Tri Augkaradacha, in his last day in office as Phuket Governor, along with other high-ranking officials will formally launch Go-Eco Phuket’s inaugural event.

An after party for participants will be held at Kan-Eang 2 at 6pm. A Thai-style buffet will start at 6:30pm and the raffle for a variety of dive goods and other contributions will start at 7pm.

RNR Eco Adventures and Dive Resort is sponsoring the night’s entertainment by bringing together Legend Recording Studio’s Dark Fiber and Legends of Siam, as well as the Rocking Angels band and DJ Tank, with a special performance by Ricky Zen.

Drinks will be provided by Molly Malones, Phuket Beer and Chang Beer.

The event will run to 11pm.

The cleanup is sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and will be covered on national television (UBC/True Visions, channel 99) by the Gazette’s new show “Phuket Today”. The show airs six times per week. For the schedule, see October’s True Visions programming guide.

Businesses interested in joining the Gazette as a sponsor of “Dive Against Debris” are invited to contact any local PADI dive center, or Tony Andrews, Regional Manager of PADI, by email at tony.andrews@padi.com.au

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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