Connect with us

Phuket

Phuket Environment: Time for Racha to sink or swim?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Phuket Environment: Time for Racha to sink or swim? | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

SPECIAL REPORT

PHUKET: With only two weeks remaining until the deadline set by Phuket Vice Governor Sommai Prijasilpa to have environmental protections in place on Racha Yai Island, questions are being asked about how much has been achieved and what remains to be done to protect the popular tourist island’s pristine environment.

A campaign lasting nearly a year asking for government help to protect the environment on the island, about 25 kilometers south of Phuket, was answered six weeks ago when V/Gov Sommai visited.

On February 8, she saw for herself the problems that increased tourism and lack of regulation have brought: mishandled wastewater and garbage, encroachment, and diving practices potentially harmful to coral.

V/Gov Sommai delegated responsibility for solving the problems and set a two-month deadline to put environmental protection measures in place.

Wastewater

A low-cost wastewater treatment machine developed by Kasetsart University could help island businesses deal properly with their wastewater before it is released into the sea, but five machines are needed and it is not clear where funding will come from.

V/Gov Sommai assigned the Natural Resources and Environment Phuket office to address the wastewater problem, and the Director of Environment, Nutthakrit Polpetch, explained his proposal to the Gazette last week.

“Our department got an idea from Nonthaburi that is using a wastewater treatment system from Kasetsart University. This low-cost system was developed at the initiative of His Majesty The King Bhumibol Adulyadej.”

“Comparable wastewater treatment machines cost about 10 million baht each, but the machine invented by Kasetsart University costs only 4 million baht and can treat about 100 cubic meters of water per day, using low energy,” Mr Nutthakrit said.

“The Racha resort has volunteered to buy this machine and be a model for us. They are in the process of approving a budget for it and negotiating and coordinating with Kasetsart University to develop a machine adapted to the island environment. Funding is an issue and we will need to ask local business owners to share the costs,” he said.

“We probably need four more machines in addition to The Racha’s to support all the businesses on the island,” he added.

Trash

The trash-disposal problem was assigned to Rawai Municipality.

For the local people on Racha Yai, there isn’t a garbage problem, said Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Rachen Phuntarakit: “They just bring their own trash to the mainland. They drop it off at Friendship Beach [map here] in Rawai, and then we take it to the dump.”

The problem is with the hotels on the island, he said.

Rawai’s Director of Public Health, Surachad Jitmaid, has been tasked with solving the garbage problem.

“I have already had discussions with a couple of hotels on the island,” he said. “Rawai Municipality has set up two additional containers on Friendship Beach, bringing the total to three, and the hotels can take their own garbage there.

“We don’t have boats to transport their garbage, and we don’t have a budget to buy boats,” he said.

Mr Surachad said he is planning a meeting with business owners on the island soon, this month or next, to continue the discussion about trash management.

Try-Diving

In the past four years alone, the coral surrounding Racha Yai has suffered damage from barges, cement that was tossed off a boat, soil dumped onto it from land clearing, and the coral bleaching of 2010.

The latest assault on the coral, according to Sarit Jandee, president of the Racha Conservation club, is Try-Diving, in which a professional diver grasps an untrained scuba-suited customer underwater and leads him on a tour.

Piya Koeysin of dive company Raya Scuba explained that coral could be damaged if the inexperienced diver were dropped by his carrier.

In her visit, V/Gov Sommai asked that action be taken to stop the practice.

Try-Diving was banned in an agreement reached by local businesses and Dr Pinsak Suraswadi, the director of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, at a meeting on March 15.

Dr Pinsak noted that the agreement reached was an extension of a previous agreement in which businesses on the island had agreed to protect the beauty of the environment, the safety of the divers and the health of the coral.

“Under the agreement, only scuba diving and snorkeling are allowed near the island, and the diving must be under the auspices of a professional diving association,” he said.

“I will send a report of this meeting to Phuket Provincial Hall to establish penalties and issue an announcement as fast as I can,” he added.

Contacted by the Gazette, Mr Sarit noted that one of the Try-Diving companies, Devil Divers, had apologized and already moved their offshore boat out of the area.

Mr Sarit plans to meet with Devil Divers again to find a way to accommodate clients they have already sold packages to. The other company, Dive Marine, still has a boat in the area, Mr Sarit said.

“We will wait for the official announcement from the Phuket Provincial Office,” he added.

Encroachment

It is not clear whether the last problem, encroachment, has been solved or not.

V/Gov Sommai asked the Phuket Marine Office to take care of it, and Chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut of that office told the Gazette, “This problem was resolved by the resort, which already razed a building.”

Mr Sarit, however, told the Gazette that the contentious structure was not a building but a wall in a stream that was blocking water from flowing to the sea. The wall is still in place, he said.

— Saran Mitrarat

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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

Economy

70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good

Caitlin Ashworth

Published

on

70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Most tourism businesses in Phuket have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they probably won’t be up and running again until foreign tourists are let back in Thailand. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says around 70% of tourism businesses have closed, most of them just temporarily, but some have shut down permanently. But the statistics are not quite that simple, with the east side of the island, largely inhabited by locals with the central business district of Phuket Town and some of the more popular expat towns, doing far better than the tourist magnets of the west coast. The Thaiger estimates that on the west coast the number would exceed 90%.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Phuket brought in 450 billion baht a year with 400 billion baht from foreign visitors while the other 50 billion baht was from domestic tourists. Thailand has been trying to increase domestic tourism to help revive the industry after the pandemic. Phuket’s governor says it helps, but not enough.

“Their visits can help solve some of our economic problems, but they cannot replace the need of foreign tourists.”

66.8% of tourism businesses in Phuket have closed temporarily while 2.8% have closed permanently, according to data by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency. (Again the percentage along the west coast is MUCH higher – just take a drive through Paton, Kat, Karon). Phuket’s governor is trying figure out how to recover the economy. And fast.

“By the end of September, the number of businesses to be closed will increase up to 70% for sure.”

While many businesses are closed, the governor says Phuket is “almost 100% ready to welcome foreign tourists.” The governor says he can’t give an answer to when foreign tourists will arrive in Phuket, but he claims they’ve “prepared every step,” from checking in at the airport to hotel quarantine. They’re just going to install some new temperature check machines at the Phuket International Airport and review the procedures for welcoming the tourists.

“We have to work and prepare carefully to welcome foreign tourists… We have to gradually open our door to welcome small groups of people first, in order to test our system, and then open for bigger groups.”

At the moment, only 3 venues in Phuket have been approved to operate as alternative state quarantine facilities. Anantara Phuket Suites & Villas has 100 rooms available, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket has 36 villas and Trisara resort has 15 villas. All are 5 star venues with a commensurate 5 star cost.

SOURCE: Phuket News

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

Published

on

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Thailand

Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth

Published

on

Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”

SOURCES: UNESCO |Bangkok Post

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading
Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending