For the millions of tourists who head for beach villas in Thailand looking for stunning beaches, clear waters and good times, cutting down on the waste that they leave behind might not really be the top priority on their list.
However, Phuket’s hotel association has decided to work together to fight against all that waste, hoping to change that with initiatives with the hope of reducing the use of plastic, dealing with the garbage from people that ends up on the shores of the Kingdom and educating not only staff and local communities, but also the tourists.
President of the Phuket Hotels and Managing Director of the Trisara resort, Anthony Lark, says that hotels uncontrolled are huge users of single-use plastics. From the beach villas in Thailand to the luxury hotels in Yangon, every hotel in the Southeast Asia region has problem with the use of plastic, and, until they decide to change and work for it, then the issue will only continue to escalate.
Established back in 2016, the Phuket Hotel Association currently has 70 members, which include of the island’s Phuket five-star hotels, and has prioritized dealing with environmental issues. Back in 2017, the group surveyed the plastics use of its members and began looking at things they could do to reduce the figures.
As part of this initiative, the association’s hotels committed to the reduction or complete phasing out of plastic water bottles and plastic drinking straws come 2019. Lark’s own resort, which had 40 villas, used to dump approximately 250,000 plastic bottles annually half a decade ago. Now, it’s switch to reusable bottles.
Phuket has become a top holiday destination in the region, similar to Bali or the Boracay Islands, and faces similar issue. The island sees about 10 million visitors annually, meaning that it has to deal with poor water management, traffic congestion and patchy waste collection services.
The non-profit organisation, Ocean Conservancy, stressed that plastics are destroying the oceans, and that hotels in the region needed to follow in Phuket’s footsteps to cut down their dependence on plastics.
Annually, the world sees between 8 to 15 million tonnes of plastics dumped into the ocean, resulting in the deaths of marine life, according to a report by the UN Environment Programme. According to another study by Ocean Conservancy, about 60% of this waste comes from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Managing Director for Ocean Conservancy, Susan Ruffo, says that, as both the creators and the victims of plastic waste, the hotel industry stands to gain much from putting in the effort needed to control their waste and to help their guests do the same.