Phuket beaches facing stiff competition

PHUKET: The Pollution Control Department (PCD) will assess the level of pollution at 16 Phuket beaches as part of its “star rating” campaign to classify beaches along the Andaman Coast and the Gulf of Thailand.

Beach quality will be rated in four key areas: pollution, natural condition, tourism management and environmental management, said Chutamad Kawinseksan, Acting Director of the PCD’s Marine Environment Division.

The PCD will evaluate seawater quality and the volume of waste in the sea, while local committees will evaluate the environmental quality of the beaches.

“The local committees will begin their assessments in February or March. They will submit their evaluations to the PCD, which will conduct the final assessment,” said Director Ongart Chanacharnmongkol of the Phuket Natural Resources and Environment Office.

The results will be announced around the end of this year, he added.

The 16 Phuket beaches are up against beaches in 17 other coastal provinces.

Ratings were not issued last year because the project, initially an annual exercise, is now biennial.

Thirteen Phuket beaches entered in the 2009 evaluation received three stars, while the beach at Ao Por got just two.

Nationwide, six beaches got the coveted five-star rating: Bi-Leh and Koh Rok beaches in Krabi; Tai Muang Beach in Phang Nga; Sam Sao and Ao Ka beaches in Surat Thani and Koh Lidee beach in Satun.

Fifty-four beaches were rated at four stars.

Mrs Chutamad explained that factors hindering higher ratings at Phuket beaches were environmental quality issues including high coliform bacteria counts in seawater, usually the result of poor wastewater management.

An overabundance of beach chairs, umbrellas and sunbeds also contributed to Phuket’s problems.

Director Ongart expressed hope that some beaches could get higher ratings, but said beaches located in environmental protection areas enjoy better chances.

“I think beaches in national parks have a chance to get higher ratings since they are well managed in terms of cleanliness and wastewater treatment,” Mr Ongart said.

“They can also control their number of visitors much better than other beaches. Beaches on Koh Racha are among our best candidates since they are away from the crowds on the main island,” he added.

— Janpen Upatising

Phuket News

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