Review of Phuket: Keep it green

PHUKET: The decision to have over 100 rai of a mangrove forest reserve on Phuket’s east coast dedicated for protection and use as an ecotourism attraction is a big step forward for Phuket. The only problem is that we need more.

The largest project area aims to protect over 1,234 rai of mangroves east of Phuket Town. Photo: Municipality of Ratsada

The largest project proposed for the area, located along Klong Tha Chin (pronounced “tah jeen”), aims to cover more than 1,234 rai of preserved mangroves. It is not a small slice of land.

The site is on the north side of the crossing to Koh Siray, an area long known for its very heavy marine pollution. The municipality of Ratsada itself only reported last December that a new boat equipped with a bailer, provided by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), released 1.5 tonnes of floating waste from the channel.

It seems that the level of pollution in the area has inspired the Mayor of Ratsada, Nakarin Yosangrat, supported by the DMCR and the Phuket Mangrove Forest Resource Management Center, to do something about it.

It takes very little to maintain an ecotourism attraction suitable for tourists wishing to enjoy nature; all you have to do is leave it alone. Yet success in this simple task has fallen short in the main tourist areas elsewhere on the island.

Having the mangrove forest along Klong Tha Chin designated as an ecotourism tourist attraction adds to the protection of the area, as the cleanliness of the area will depend on one of the country’s most powerful motivating factors: the shame.

Thai tourists appreciate nature and travel their country to indulge and experience it. Nature tourism was a growing domestic tourism market for years before COVID-19, and was the first domestic travel segment to be promoted as travel options became more popular after the wave of drought passed. Delta infections last year.

However, even before the pandemic, Phuket was starting to lose its luster even among Thai tourists, not only because of Phuket’s high prices, but also because of its diminishing natural appeal. As everyone has seen in recent years, a growing number of Thais aren’t afraid to post exactly what they see online. Foreign tourists are no different.

With the support of the DMCR and the Phuket Mangrove Forest Resource Management Center, Ratsada Municipality does not have to go it alone in maintaining the area. Moreover, the recognition of the site as a tourist attraction loosens the purse strings of the tourist authorities, allowing better protection against invaders and polluters.

This decision is an excellent initiative of the Mayor of Ratsada, Nakarin, and deserves to be supported. Other municipalities would do well to follow suit.

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