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09 September 2013 @ 08:47 pm
Thoughts from Places: Phuket  
(shamelessly ripping the title off from the vlogbrothers again because I can)

So I was in Phuket for the weekend, taking a little break from this mess that is my academic life. The trip was enjoyable, filled with glorious beaches and copious time to read, but as we roamed the streets, I couldn't help but worry as I took in the sights before me.

Mainly, the issue of sustainable tourism. This struck me with the most impact when we went to the Phi Phi islands yesterday. At the beach at Phi Phi Ley, the tiny strip of sand contained hundreds of tourists and too many speedboats. What worries me especially is the speedboat. The waters wear crystal clear and a gorgeous shade of blue but I couldn't help but wonder how long could it be sustained? If there are so many speedboats there during what is considered the off-peak season, imagine the amount of litter and oil that goes into the sea during other times of the year. Also, litter on the beach. It wasn't so apparent when I was there yesterday but it has to be an issue for such a small beach with a tiny carrying capacity and the volume of tourists there that definitely exceeded what the island can handle.

If this isn't regulated, the islands will just go to waste. Where would we be then? Another island that has yet to be touched by tourists with untouched, pristine beaches?

Also, when I look at Phuket, I see a place still struggling to rebuild itself from the aftermath of the tsunami.

Whenever I look out of the minibus along the highway, I see rubbish heaps filled with wrecked infrastructure. The area where I stayed in, Kamala beach, was almost a ghost town. There were so many bars and restaurants in the area but so few tourists. We were the only family living in the resort. Can you imagine that on a weekend? Even if it is the off-peak season, this scarily low volume of tourists worries me, especially when there are so many of them at Phi Phi island. Despite the fact that the beach at Kamala looks the same as Patong (the most popular beach), there were so little people at Kamala compared to Patong.

Sustainable tourism needs to be throughout the entire island. 
♫: Augustana - Boston