Phuket beaches fail “5-star’ award

PHUKET: Visitors seeking a “five-star” beach experience in Thailand will have to head to either Krabi or Satun, as none of the eight beaches in Phuket monitored by the Pollution Control Department (PCD) will be awarded the coveted “5-Star Tourist Beach” rating for 2006.

Dr Pornsook Chongprasith, Director of the PCD’s Marine Environment Division, told the Gazette that only three beaches of 105 monitored in this year’s program received the top rating: Adang Island Beach in Satun, and Haad Yao on Phi Phi Don and Bilae Beach on Koh Hong, both in Krabi.

Phuket should take heart, though. The three beaches were the first ever to get the five-star rating under the program, now in its fourth year.

The PCD will post the ratings on signs at each beach to raise public awareness and encourage local residents to keep their beaches pollution free and attractive.

The beaches were subject to quarterly monitoring and numerical values assigned to beach-quality indicators, such as water quality (bacteria counts), local land use, the amount of litter on the sand and under the water in a random sweep, and the presence of sand dunes.

Dr Pornsook said the results of the five-star beaches had been confirmed, but that final results for all the other beaches were being double-checked for accuracy. The final results will be posted on the PCD website in a few weeks’ time and the signs updated by the end of the year, she added.

PCD Environmental Scientist Saisunee Chaksuin told the Gazette that preliminary, unofficial results of the eight Phuket beaches monitored in 2006 indicate that all will receive either 4 or 4½ stars.

Patong, Surin and Nai Yang all maintained the four-star ratings assigned to them in 2005, while Karon Beach stayed at 4½-stars, largely because of the presence of sand dunes there.

Four other Phuket beaches were monitored for the first time: Kata Yai (4 stars), Nai Harn (4½), Kamala (4½) and Bang Tao (4).

Dr Pornsook added that the new wastewater plant in Patong was a positive development, but that Patong Beach still faced many problems, such as rainy season runoff directly into the bay without treatment, hillside erosion and the failure of some hotels to treat their waste before releasing it into the sewage system.

Phuket News
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