Showing posts with label Environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Environment. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Runaway warming could sink fishing and reef tourism, researchers warn

Countries from Egypt to Mexico could lose 95 percent of their income from coral reef tourism, and parts of West Africa could see their ocean fisheries decline by 85 percent by the turn of the century if planet-warming emissions continue to rise, oceans experts warned Friday.

"Action in reducing emissions really needs to be taken, or we will be facing very important impacts" on oceans and people, said Elena Ojea, one of the authors of a new paper looking at the potential impacts of climate change on ocean economies.

The study, released at the UN climate negotiations in Madrid, was commissioned by the leaders of 14 countries with ocean-dependent economies, and looked at ocean fisheries and seafood cultivation industries, and coral reef tourism.

It found that reef tourism, a nearly $36-billion-a-year industry today, could see more than 90% losses globally by 2100 under a high-emissions scenario.

Countries particularly dependent on coral reef tourism - Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand and Australia - could see income cut by 95 percent, the paper noted.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, an ocean expert at Australia's University of Queensland and one of paper's authors, said his country's Great Barrier Reef tourism industry - worth billions a year a year - was already seeing losses as corals bleached and died.

Ojea, of Spain's University of Vigo, said the 30 million people directly employed in ocean fishing each year also "will be heavily affected" as fish struggle with hotter and more acidic oceans and move to new ranges or die.

She said the problem was most serious in equatorial regions, with some West African nations, in particular, facing "very huge losses" by the end of the century if emissions rise well beyond the 2 degree Celsius limit set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But some cooler areas of the planet could see a rise in local fish stocks as fish move to cooler waters, she said.

Efforts to adapt fisheries to changing conditions and better manage them, alongside stronger efforts to curb climate change, could cut expected losses, however, said Timothy Fitzgerald, director of the US-based Environmental Defense Fund's Fishery Solutions Center.

"We know the most well-managed fisheries are also the most resilient to climate change," he told journalists at an event on the sidelines of the UN talks.

Vidar Helgesen, Norway's special envoy to the 14-nation High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, said the paper should send a "very strong message to the world" on the need to act swiftly to prevent growing ocean-related losses.

The report builds on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's findings that climate-related damage to oceans is likely to cost the global economy nearly $430 billion by 2050, and close to $2 trillion by 2100.

Source - TheJakartaPost

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

#Vietnam - Hanoi joins UNESCO's Creative Cities Network

Vietnam's capital city is one of 66 cities that were designated by UNESCO in early November as Creative Cities in various categories.
Hanoi got the UNESCO honour in the ‘Design’ category for its developed design industry, opportunities for creating designs from natural materials and conditions and the presence of active design groups.

Following the designation, the city plans to issue a long-term action program and connect its policies to promote cultural industries and enrich cultural resources, municipal authorities said.

It will also help other Vietnamese cities make it into the Creative Cities Network and contribute to the network’s development.

The Creative Cities Network was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation with and between cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

Besides Hanoi, 11 other Asian cities entered the list this time: Wonju and Jinju in South Korea, Yangzhou and Nanjing in China, Ambon in Indonesia, Asahikawa in Japan, Bangkok and Sukhothai in Thailand, Cebu in the Philippines, and Hyderabad and Mumbai in India.

The network now has a total of 246 cities in seven categories: music, arts and folk crafts, design, cinema, literature, digital arts, and gastronomy.
By winning the UNESCO recognition, Hanoi will get opportunities to cooperate with other creative cities in the network and can market itself as an attractive destination for visitors.

Last July the city celebrated 20 years of it being granted the "City for Peace" title by UNESCO, recognizing its contributions to the struggle for peace, its efforts to promote equality in the community, protect the environment, promote culture and education, and care for younger generations.

Hanoi has a number of architectural works with a long history like the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO-recognized cultural heritage site; the Hanoi Opera House; the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum; and the Nhat Tan Bridge, according to the city tourism department.
2018 was a successful year for Hanoi’s tourism sector with a record high 5.74 million foreign visitors, up 16 percent against 2017. The capital received 4.7 million foreign tourists in the first nine months of this year, up 10 percent year-on-year.

Source - VN Express

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

#Cambodian resort among Time magazine’s greatest destinations

Shinta Mani Wild at Sre Ambel in Koh Kong province

 Shinta Mani Wild, an innovative luxury resort and conservation centre, has brought fame to Cambodia after Time magazine, one of the most influential international news publications, included it in its 2019 World’s Greatest Places list.
 Some 100 exceptional destinations around the globe are listed in the World’s Greatest Places. Time started the list last year.

Shinta Mani Wild was included in the ‘To Stay’ section together with iconic destinations from the United States, Kenya, Bhutan, Uruguay, China, and Israel, among other countries. Several cruise ships were also on the list.

 Shinta Mani Wild was the sole destination from Cambodia that made it to the list.
Chenda Clais, president of the Cambodia Hotel Association, said Shinta Mani Wild deserved the recognition.

“I think it is a well-deserved recognition for a beautiful hotel which is also contributing to preserving Cambodia’s environment as well as making it a tourism destination,” she stressed. “It is an honour for our country.”

Shinta Mani Wild, which sits on more than 160 hectares of forest, is located between Cardamon, Bokor, and Kirirom national parks. The brainchild of renowned designer Bill Bensley, it opened its doors to the public late last year.

Lonely Planet described it as a “radical new concept that combines first-class design with serious conservation goals”.
To come up with the list, Time, on its website, said that it solicited nominations from museums, parks, hotels, restaurants, industry experts, and from their editors and correspondents around the world. The nominees were evaluated based on key factors that included originality, sustainability, innovation, and influence.
Source - Khmer Times

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

#Cambodia - Authorities pump water into Angkor Wat complex

A current hot spell has led to the Angkor waterways drying up.

The Apsara Authority is pumping water into the moat and ponds at Angkor Wat during the current dry spell.

Apsara spokesman Long Kosal yesterday said that Cambodia is being affected by the El Nino phenomenon which is causing extremely hot weather leading to severe water loss due to evaporation. He said this has seriously impacted water management in the Angkor area.

“Groundwater and surface water is very important to maintain the beauty and environment in the Angkor area, especially Angkor Wat temple,” he said. “So to maintain the right level of water in the moat and ponds around Angkor Wat temple requires proper water management.

. .
Mr Kosal said the authority is pumping water into the southern pond at Angkor Wat to maintain its water level and will do so for the northern pond after current archaeological work in it are complete.

“We are pumping water from Siem Reap river which is the only major source of supply for the Angkor area,” he added.

Phoeun Sokhim, deputy director of the Department of Water Management at the Apsara Authority, yesterday said that the moat surrounding Angkor Wat is losing more than 10,000 cubic meters per day due to evaporation and into the ground.

“Although the water evaporation is high, it does not affect the level of water in the Angkor Wat moat, because the moat contains more than one million cubic meters of water which is maintained through regular pumping,” he said.

Mr Sokhim noted that the Apsara Authority has also restored an ancient waterway system to help water flow from the Angkor Thom moat to maintain the water level in Angkor Wat moat.
He added that Apsara Authority is also regularly cooperating with the Siem Reap Water Supply Authority to manage the amount of underground water being pumped to address shortage in the area.

Mr Sokhim said any excessive pumping of underground water can impact the soil which poses a risk to conservation of temples in the Angkor area.

Kol Putra, a tourist guide at the Angkor area, yesterday said he supports the Apsara Authority’s actions to maintain the water balance in the Angkor Wat moat.

Mr Sokhim noted that the Apsara Authority has also restored an ancient waterway system to help water flow from the Angkor Thom moat to maintain the water level in Angkor Wat moat.

Source - Khmer Times

Friday, 25 January 2019

#Bangkok - Health, pollution top social media discussion topics

Online channels being increasingly used for complaints about hospital services.

STROKES AND dust were the two most-discussed topics among Thai netizens last year, a recent survey has revealed. 

Conducted by the data company, Backyard Co Ltd, the survey found that Thais were particularly interested in the quality of private hospital services, strokes, chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) and facilities for elderly care during their time online.

Net users often “talked” about hospitals in relation to their services (54.94 per cent), Backyard’s co-founder Kittipong Kitithawornkul said. This was followed by topics like complaints, scamming, lack of medical ethics and hype (22.75 per cent), hospitals’ environment (11.80 per cent), fees (7.30 per cent), location (1.72 per cent) and facilities (1.50 per cent). 
Interestingly, data also showed that people are turning to online channels to submit complaints about hospitals, up from 16 per cent in 2017 to 22 per cent last year, reflecting the growing importance of online comments, he said. 

Data also pointed to Thai people’s growing interest in certain diseases. Strokes, for example, ranked No 1, with people discussing the topic 111.42 per cent more than the year earlier, followed by CRDs (59.88 per cent) and chronic kidney disease (34.91 per cent). 
Researchers believe the move to ban trans or unsaturated fat by the Thai food agency may have inspired more discussions about strokes. 

In terms of online conversations related to medical check-up packages, data showed that Thai netizens “talked” more about packages for chronic respiratory diseases, 233.33 per cent more from the year earlier, chronic kidney disease (163.76 per cent) and strokes (89.32 per cent). 

Interestingly, as Bangkok struggles to cope with smog and fine PM2.5 dust particles, conversations about smog-related diseases such as allergy, heart disease, asthma and lung cancer are also on the rise.

In addition, online conversations regarding the wellness industry grew 75 per cent compared to the year earlier, though real estate topped the list. 

Meanwhile, online conversations about elderly care facilities rose as much as 180 per cent from the year earlier. 

People seem to be less interested in yoga, with 58 per cent fewer conversations about the subject compared to the year earlier. Now people seem to be more interested in healthy diets, with 128 per cent more discussions compared to 2017. This has been attributed to the popularity of intermittent fasting and the keto diet. 

Thai netizens also talked less about low-fat and low-calorie diets, and showed more interest in gluten-free (179.02 per cent up from 2017) and vegan diets (166.05 per cent). Unsurprisingly, there was also more discussion about protein alternatives. 

In order to combat office syndrome, researchers found that people were most interested in manipulative and body-based methods, with acupuncture and cupping therapy at the top of the list. 

“Online data shows that the healthcare and wellness business is very attractive, especially because online conversations related to this business grew as much as 85 per cent from 2017 to 2018,” Kittipong said.

Sourse - TheNation

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

#Thailand - Illegal fishing key threat to reefs

THOUGH EXCESSIVE tourism has garnered recent headlines over threats to the health of Thailand’s diverse saltwater seas, illegal fishing presents another big challenge to preserving their rich natural resources.

Remote off-shore islands and underwater rocks are at the greatest risk of damage from illegal fishing activities, say marine ecosystems experts. 

Meanwhile the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (DNP) and the Fisheries Department are working together to solve the problem of illegal fishing inside national park areas.

Shortly after Mu Ko Surin National Park in Phang Nga was opened for tourism last week, a group of scuba divers found a large fishing net covering a large area of coral reef at Mu Ko Surin’s prominent scuba-diving spot, Richelieu Rock.


 It took four days to remove the fishing net from the reef, and this was not the first time that Richelieu Rock’s sensitive reef ecosystem had been threatened by fishing impacts.

Tongkan Worapanya, one of the scuba divers to discover the fishing net debris at Richelieu Rock last Thursday, quickly contacted Mu Ko Surin National Park and fellow scuba divers to help raise it from the reef. 

“Though the damage to the corals caused by the net appears to be minor, I noticed that the fish population at Richelieu u Rock had greatly decreased when the net covered the coral reef,” said Tongkan, who is also an open water instructor at British Sub Aqua Club.

“We have been working tirelessly with national park officers to clear out the net and have just finished removing all of the fishing net debris.”

He suspects the net may have come from a fishing trawler too close to the rock, which accidentally entangled its net on the coral reef. Another possibility is the net was marine debris and had been washed over the reef by strong waves during the recent monsoon season.

Richelieu Rock is a submerged shoal within the Mu Ko Surin National Park, around 14 kilometres from Mu Ko Surin Islands, so any fishing activities at the reef or anywhere inside the national park are illegal.

The coral reef at Richelieu Rock is famous for its pristine deepwater corals and the high diversity of colourful marine animal, and so has become a prime destination for scuba divers to observe the scenic underwater world, and for illegal fishermen who come to catch abundant fish at the reef.
 Dynamite fishing

Tongkan further noted that this was not the first time that evidence of illegal fishing activities had been discovered at Richelieu Rock. Divers occasionally find fishing-net debris at the reef, and last year part of the vulnerable ecosystem was damaged by a blast from dynamite fishing.

Prominent marine biologist and member of the National Strategy Committee on Environmental Development, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, said illegal fishing presented a big problem to the efforts to preserve marine ecosystems. 

Not only are many rare marine animals caught and killed by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, he said, but the beautiful coral reefs are also destroyed, causing huge damage to both the ecosystem and the tourism sector.

“Despite the authorities’ best efforts, many remote islands and underwater shoals are still out of patrol range for officers to regularly check and prevent illegal fishing, so these areas are our main blind spots,” Thon said.

To mitigate the problem, DNP is now working with the Fisheries Department on a proposal for trans-agency data sharing from vessel monitoring systems tracking. 

That would alert them to encroachment in national park areas by any fishing vessels.

But data sharing agreements take time to hammer out. “There are still a lot of negotiations ahead until an agreement will be reached,” said Thon.

Source -The Nation

Thursday, 18 October 2018

#Thailand - Similan boss ignores tour operator appeals

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation is refusing to bow to pressure from tour operators in Phang-nga for it to ease restrictions on visitors to the Similan Islands.

Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Parks Division of the department, said the decision to limit the number of daily visitors to 3,325, plus another 525 visitors for scuba diving, was intended to preserve the environment.


 Overnight Similan stays are also banned under the current guidelines.

 He said the department does not want a repeat of the situation of previous years when the number of daily visitors spiralled to 6,000 to 7,000 on some days, well beyond the capability of the islands to cope.

“The department doesn’t want to see the Similans end up like Maya Bay in nearby Krabi province, which was recently closed indefinitely due to extensive damage caused to coral reefs and the beach from unlimited visitors,” Songtham said. 

The parks division chief said he was not worried by the protest of tour operators, who claimed that their business would be affected by the restriction because they had already accepted advance bookings from tourists to visit the Similans and that they were given little notice about the restrictions.

Songtham said: “Park officials had been discussing with the representatives of the operators throughout the past year about the overcrowding problems and about measures to limit the numbers to preserve the environment for the long-term benefit of all parties.”

Only a few tourists visited the Similans yesterday – the second day of the two-day boycott imposed by tour operators to protest against the restrictions.

Tour operators have been taking tourists to Koh Surin over the past two days.

Source - TheNation

Saturday, 6 October 2018

#Philippines to rein in visitors to Boracay island, strained by tourism

The Philippines will limit the number of visitors setting foot on its most treasured island resort each day when it reopens to tourists on October 26 after a six-month rehabilitation effort, an environment official said on Wednesday.

Boracay, located off the northern tip of the central island of Panay, is famed for its sugary white sands, turquoise waters, lively nightlife and abundant water sports, which attracted nearly 2 million domestic and foreign visitors last year.

But in April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the island, calling it a "cesspool", because of sewage dumped into the sea and buildings constructed too close to the shore.

About a third of the 600 to 700 resorts on Boracay, about 308 km (192 miles) from Manila, the capital, were operating without permits, authorities found.

Just 19,000 tourists will be allowed on the island on any given day, with the number of workers capped at 15,000 daily, the environment official, Sherwin Rigor, said in a television interview.


 Only half of the island's 12,000 existing hotel rooms will be allowed to open each day, he added, to ensure the number of guests on the tiny 10-sq-km (4-sq-mile) island is below its "carrying capacity" of 55,000.

Rigor, who is an undersecretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, added that authorities would ban beachfront parties, and activities such as eating, smoking and drinking there.

The closure of Boracay, which earns the Philippines more than a billion dollars in tourism revenue every year, weighed on gross domestic product in the second quarter. Growth slowed to a near three-year low of 6 percent in April-June.

Source - TheJakartaPost

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Nature tours reopen on #Phuket canal after clean-up

Water quality in the Mudong Canal in Wichit is starting to return to normal while tourists are back on sailing tours along the canal.

Residents along the Phuket waterway have been calling for officials to clean up the filthy canal after wastewater was found flowing into the canal and out to the sea. 
Dead animals were also found floating in the canal.

 The Phuket authorities reported that on Wednesday the dissolved oxygen (DO) index was very low at 0.03-0.5 milligrams per litre.

Yesterday (Thursday), officials from the Environment Office Region 15 Phuket inspected the canal again. They reported that water quality had improved.

“The water is clearer than before and the bad smell is not there anymore. No dead shrimp, crabs and fish have been found floating,” the office said. 

DO was measured along the canal.

Source - TheNation

Ps. Strange to hear it is safe after one day.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

On Thai island #Phuket, hotel guests check out of plastic waste

For the millions of sun seekers who head to Thailand's resort island of Phuket each year in search of stunning beaches and clear waters, cutting down on waste may not be a top priority.

But the island's hotel association is hoping to change that with a series of initiatives aimed at reducing the use of plastic, tackling the garbage that washes up on its shores, and educating staff, local communities and tourists alike.

"Hotels unchecked are huge consumers and users of single-use plastics," said Anthony Lark, president of the Phuket Hotels Association and managing director of the Trisara resort.

"Every resort in Southeast Asia has a plastic problem. Until we all make a change, it's going to get worse and worse," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Established in 2016 and with about 70 members - including all Phuket's five-star hotels - the association has put tackling environmental issues high on its to-do list.

Last year the group surveyed members' plastics use and then began looking at ways to shrink their plastics footprint.

As part of this, three months ago the association's hotels committed to phase out, or put plans in place to stop using plastic water bottles and plastic drinking straws by 2019.

About five years ago, Lark's own resort with about 40 villas used to dump into landfill about 250,000 plastic water bottles annually. It has now switched to reusable glass bottles.

The hotel association also teamed up with the documentary makers of "A Plastic Ocean", and now show an edited version with Thai subtitles for staff training.

Meanwhile hotel employees and local school children take part in regular beach clean-ups.

"The association is involved in good and inclusive community-based action, rather than just hotel general managers getting together for a drink," Lark said.


Phuket, like Bali in Indonesia and Boracay in the Philippines, has become a top holiday destination in Southeast Asia - and faces similar challenges.

Of a similar size to Singapore and at the geographical heart of Southeast Asia, Phuket is easily accessible to tourists from China, India, Malaysia and Australia.

With its white sandy beaches and infamous nightlife, Phuket attracts about 10 million visitors each year, media reports say, helping make the Thai tourism industry one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lacklustre economy.

Popular with holiday makers and retirees, Phuket - like many other Southeast Asian resorts - must contend with traffic congestion, poor water management and patchy waste collection services.

Despite these persistent problems, hotels in the region need to follow Phuket's lead and step up action to cut their dependence on plastics, said Susan Ruffo, a managing director at the U.S.-based non-profit group Ocean Conservancy.

Worldwide, between 8 million and 15 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, UN Environment says.

Five Asian countries - China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand - account for up to 60 percent of plastic waste leaking into the seas, an Ocean Conservancy study found.

"As both creators and 'victims' of waste, the hotel industry has a lot to gain by making efforts to control their own waste and helping their guests do the same," Ruffo said.

"We are seeing more and more resorts and chains start to take action, but there is a lot more to be done, particularly in the area of ensuring that hotel waste is properly collected and recycled," she added.


Data on how much plastic is used by hotels and the hospitality industry is hard to find. But packaging accounts for up to 40 percent of an establishment's waste stream, according to a 2011 study by The Travel Foundation, a UK-based charity.

Water bottles, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes and even food delivered by room service all tend to use throw-away plastics.

In the past, the hospitality industry has looked at how to use less water and energy, said Von Hernandez, global coordinator at the "Break Free From Plastic" movement in Manila.

Now hotels are turning their attention to single-use plastics amid growing public awareness about damage to oceans.

"A lot of hotels are doing good work around plastics", adopting measures to eliminate or shrink their footprint, said Hernandez.

But hotels in Southeast Asia often have to contend with poor waste management and crumbling infrastructure.

"I've seen resorts in Bali that pay staff to rake the beach every morning to get rid of plastic, but then they either dig a hole, and bury it or burn it on the beach," said Ruffo. "Those are not effective solutions, and can lead to other issues."

Hotels should look at providing reusable water containers and refill stations, giving guests metal or bamboo drinking straws and bamboo toothbrushes, and replacing single-use soap and shampoo containers with refillable dispensers, experts said.

"Over time, this could actually lower their operational costs - it could give them savings," said Hernandez. "It could help change mindsets of people, so that when they go back to their usual lives, they have a little bit of education."

Back in Phuket, the hotel association is exploring ways to cut plastic waste further, and will host its first regional forum on environmental awareness next month.

The hope is that what the group has learned over the last two years can be implemented at other Southeast Asian resorts and across the wider community.

"If the 20,000 staff in our hotels go home and educate mum and dad about recycling or reusing, it's going to make a big difference," said Lark.

Source - TheNation

Sunday, 15 July 2018

An onslaught of tourists is stressing out Thailand

Back in early June, a small pilot whale gained global attention after it ingested plastic bags and packaging, and then died in southern Thailand. It wasn’t a good look for the nation’s tourism industry.

A month later, Thailand’s Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat holds up a picture frame containing pieces of an instant-noodle packet recovered from the stomach of the whale. For him, it’s emblematic of the environmental and other stresses of a record tourism boom that could see 40 million foreign arrivals -- equivalent to over half the nation’s population -- in 2019.

"Tourism can create, and at the same time, tourism can disrupt," said Weerasak, 52, in an interview in his office in the Thai capital. "Congestion is no good for anyone, including the hosts and the guests."

A surge in Chinese holidaymakers has stoked the growth in the tourism sector, which now accounts for roughly 20 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

Managing the inflow is proving challenging, underlined by a tragedy last week that put the spotlight on safety standards after more than 40 Chinese tourists died when a boat sank off the coast of Phuket.
 The disaster hasn’t had a significant impact on Chinese enthusiasm for holidays in Thailand but the government has to be proactive to prevent a wider fallout, said Thongyoo Suphavittayakorn, a spokesperson for the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

Many of the overseas travelers head to Bangkok, beach hot-spots like Phuket or the popular northern city of Chiang Mai, straining local resources.
Asked if Thailand is now coming close to its tourism capacity, Weerasak said: "Oh yeah."

The minister is looking to promote visits to less-traveled spots inside the country to tackle congestion in popular destinations as well as addressing national income disparities. Yet that throws up a new challenge: How to preserve the character of local communities and heritage sites such as the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya that might have to absorb a wave of foreign visitors.

Weerasak said he’s seeking to "encourage domestic and international travelers to be very responsible, not only to the culture but also to the environment."

Consider the case of Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island, which was made famous by the year 2000 movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The bay has been closed down by authorities for four months to give the island time to recover from environmental degradation, such as coral damage from boat anchors and trash on beaches, caused by constant tourist traffic.

"The increased influx of tourism is already having very visible impacts on the Thai seas and coasts," Eike Schoenig, director and chief resident scientist at marine environmentalist group COREsea, said in an email. "Few countries have good track records managing mass tourism."

The Thai tourism minister is planning to install a reservation-only system to control the number of visitors to the bay. Boats will be forced to dock at the back of the bay, so that there will only be a single entry point for tourists.
 Thailand’s military government is also considering imposing a travel insurance system to prevent tourists arriving without any protection and ending up as a burden on the state if they get into trouble, he said.

Despite the difficulties, tourism is going to remain a critical engine for Thailand, where economic growth is accelerating but lags behind some neighboring countries. Government data shows revenue from foreign tourists is projected at well over $60 billion next year, and that spending remains focused mainly on major cities.

The country is pushing ahead with investment to expand airports as passenger traffic climbs. State-run Airports of Thailand plans to pour billions of dollars into boosting capacity in Bangkok as well as the tourist-heavy spots of Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Countries such as France and Italy that get heavy tourist traffic manage to disperse visitors, said Weerasak.

"That is the pattern we want to see," he said. "The numbers keep increasing. It all depends on how you manage them."

Source - TheJakataPost

Monday, 9 April 2018

#Philippines to close Boracay resort to tourists for six months

The Philippines has announced its best-known holiday island Boracay will be closed to tourists for six months over concerns that the once idyllic white-sand resort has become a "cesspool" tainted by dumped sewage.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown to start April 26, his spokesman Harry Roque said late Wednesday on Twitter, without providing further detail.

The decision raises questions about the livelihoods of thousands employed as part of a bustling tourist trade that serves some two million guests on the island each year.

Boracay has some 500 tourism-related businesses, which had a combined annual revenue of 56 billion pesos ($1.07 billion) last year.
However in February Duterte blasted the tiny island's hotels, restaurants and other businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea and turning it into a "cesspool".

Officials have warned the island's drainage system is being used to send the untreated sewage into its surrounding turquoise waters.

The environment ministry says 195 businesses, along with more than 4,000 residential customers, are not connected to sewer lines.

 In February the government said a total of 300 businesses faced "evaluation" for sanitary or other offences on the 1,000-hectare (2,470-acre) island, of which 51 had already been handed official warnings for violating environmental regulations.
Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones told AFP last month a closure would involve having airlines and ferries suspend their Boracay services and making the beaches off-limits, and stationing police there "if necessary"
"An iron fist is needed to bring it back to its previous condition. It will be a temporary thing," Leones said.

The Boracay Foundation Inc., a business industry association on the island, had asked the government to shut down only those violating environmental laws.

"It's unfair for compliant establishments to be affected by the closure," Executive Director Pia Miraflores told AFP.

Miraflores said that even before the ban was announced, its shadow had hit some businesses hard in Boracay.

"The tour guides have already complained that they have no more guests. There's already a huge effect," she said, adding the quays and jetties were "less crowded" than before.

Some couples who scheduled their weddings on the island up to a year or two in advance had cancelled their reservations even before the ban was announced, she said, with the tour agents also besieged with client calls on whether to pursue their planned trips. 

With more than 500 hotels, Boracay employs 17,000 people, apart from 11,000 construction workers working on new projects.

Source - TheJakartaPost

Friday, 9 February 2018

What’s happening to Bangkok’s air?

In the past week, the air quality in Bangkok has hit “unhealthy” levels, according to the Air Pollution Index, and the problem has worsened to the point that smog can be seen with the naked eye in the morning. 

The Department of Pollution Control has issued a warning for people to wear face masks or simply “go to the doctor” if they experience abnormalities with their breathing or respiratory system. 

Today, the department reported PM2.5 dust in Bangkok at 8am. It was measured at 47-70 micrograms per m3, higher than the level considered safe for Thailand, which is set at 50 micrograms per m3. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization suggested that the level of PM2.5 dust should be under 25 micrograms per m3. 
So no, you’re not imagining it.

 According to the department, the dust in four areas of Bangkok exceeded safe standards today. Those areas were: Wangthonglang district, Thanon Intharaphithak (located near the riverside), Rama IV Road (which stretches across business areas including Silom, Lumpini, and Khlong Toei), and Lat Phrao Road. 

Trinuch Kraiwit, a resident of Wangthonglang, told Coconuts: “When I get out of the house in the morning, I can see a thick smog… The sky is gray.

“I’ve been feeling that my allergy has been triggered. I’ve been having a sore throat — so does my colleague. So I’ve bought face masks just in case I have to work outdoors.” 

In a statement, the Department of Pollution Control blamed the temperature drop of 2-4 degrees Celsius and humidity as causes for dust to accumulate in the air.

Prof. Dr. Wanida Jinsart, an expert on environmental science and air pollution from Chulalongkorn University, told Coconuts that the high number of vehicles on Bangkok roads is a main contributor to city smog, and the cool weather caused the problem to become more prominent. 

“It’s more noticeable in the winter, where inversions normally occur. This means a layer of air is trapped, causing the smog,” she said, explaining that the gray smog we see is composed primarily of dust and steam trapped in the atmosphere.

She explained we can see that the smog disappears around 10am as the temperature becomes higher, which means we can expect the smog to go away as warmer weather approaches. 

“We’ll have to follow the weather prediction from the Department of Meteorology, but I think we won’t experience the smog next week.”
She added that the smog can be dangerous to your health if it continues to happen over the long term, and that, for now, we should be OK if we protect ourselves by wearing a face mask.

Source -

#Australia tourism industry under climate change threat

Australia's multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under increasing threat from climate change with some of the nation's top natural wonders in the firing line as temperatures and sea levels rise, a study warned Thursday.

The report by environmental advocacy group the Climate Council said the government needed to do more to reduce carbon emissions harming Australia's beaches, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef.

Tourism is the nation's second-largest export industry, valued at Aus$40 billion (US$31 billion) and employing more than 580,000 people, it said. 

But popular visitor destinations were at risk, with major cities in coastal areas expected to face more frequent flooding in coming years, while Australia's "Red Centre" region could experience more than 100 days annually above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2030, it found.

"Tourists travel across the globe to see Australia's remarkable natural wonders. But these icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise," ecologist and report co-author Lesley Hughes said.

"Some of our country's most popular natural destinations, including our beaches, could become 'no-go zones' during peak holiday periods and seasons, with the potential for extreme temperatures to reach up to 50 degrees in Sydney and Melbourne."

 A separate report last year from Deloitte Access Economics valued the Great Barrier Reef as an asset worth Aus$56 billion, which included its tourism revenues and its indirect value for people who have not yet visited but know it exists.

The World Heritage-listed site, which attracts millions of tourists each year, is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change.

"Without credible climate policy that cuts Australia's rising carbon pollution levels, the impacts of climate change will only intensify and accelerate across the country over the coming decades," Climate Council chief executive Martin Rice said.

Environmental advocates on Thursday urged Canberra to move away from coal-fired power generation.

With its heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population, Australia is considered one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.

"The extra heat from global warming will further reduce the tourist season and make some enterprises unviable," said Liz Hanna, from the School of Environment at the Australian National University.

"Protecting the tourism industry protects jobs and protects Australia's economic wellbeing."
Canberra insists it is taking strong action to address the global threat of climate change, having set an ambitious target to reduce emissions to 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia sweltered through its third-hottest year on record in 2017, with seven of its 10 warmest years experienced since 2005.

Source - TheJakartaPost

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

#Thailand - Limiting tourists on the most popular islands

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation held a meeting at the Pearl Hotel on Phuket on Tuesday to discuss the excessive numbers of tourists visiting the famous islands and bays.

Songtham Suksawang, chief of the DNP’s National Parks Office, who chaired the meeting, said that the amount of tourists in marine national parks was directly affecting the environment.

“Those national parks, especially marine national parks, are suffering from an oversupply of visitors. There are many problems such as oil from boats, rubbish and the effect on the local lifestyle on the islands, which is difficult to rehabilitate in the short term. They [meeting participants] discussed rearranging of the marine national parks to better meet the demand, but by limiting supply and providing a more sustainable solution,” he said.

“There will be a study on the limiting of tourism. Some locations have already had these studies done. After sending the officers to check, we found that there’s a specific period of time when the islands are overcrowded, which is 11am to 2pm when the tourists come onshore to rest and have lunch. There are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people visiting some of the islands each day,” he added.
The DNP has plans for a solution on the Similan Islands by spreading tourists around the other islands, as Island Four and Island Eight are way too overcrowded.
“We will spread tourists to other islands, apart from Islands Four and Eight, by installing piers to connect them. They will be floating piers to avoid disturbing the corals. There will be a floating centre, where tourists can rest in front of the island, as well.''
 “The purchasing process of the centres will be completed by March 31. We will start this project near the islands that are highly overcrowded, such as Similan, Phi Phi and in Phang Nga Bay. The limitation of tourists according to the time of the day will also follow after the study is done,” Songtham explained.
  “The limiting of tourists and an increase in customer fees are possible if the environment continues to be damaged too much from tourism,” he pointed out.

The DNP will also create an e-ticket to enter the islands, which will possibly start with the Similans, Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay, as this would also help solve the issue of transparency in national park management, the National Parks Office chief said.

For security, he said that he had approved budgets for ambulance and rescue boats and was currently coordinating with the Emergency Medical Institute of Thailand to provide assistance to tourists in the marine national park area.

In case of emergency, the 1669 hotline is also available 24/7.

Source - TheNation

Monday, 5 February 2018

#Laos - Luang Prabang focuses on Boosting cultural Tourism

The Luang Prabang tourism sector has been focusing on boosting cultural tourism and sustainable development to ensure socio-economic development in the province, according to a Luang Prabang tourism official.

Luang Prabang is one of the ancient cities of the Lao PDR that was established more than 1,200 years ago. It is endowed with rich, beautiful, natural scenery, historical culture, ancient temples, architecture and unique arts and crafts. Because of these unique qualities and attributes, UNESCO declared Luang Prabang a World Heritage Site in 1995.

“The tourism sector has provided a huge contribution to socio-economic development such as job creation and the improvement of livelihoods of local people, as well as to the reduction of poverty of people in rural areas,” said last week Luang Prabang Governor Khamkhan Chanthavisouk.
“Over the past 20 years of preservation and development of the World Heritage Site, the Provincial Administration, together with Lao multi-ethnic people, businesses and entrepreneurs both domestic and foreign, as well as international organizations, have been working together to preserve and maintain the cultural values of this World Heritage Site in a sustainable manner,” said Mr Khamkhan.

As a result, lovely Luang Prabang has been a favorite tourist destination for many consecutive years, and was nominated as “Best City” in the Wanderlust Travel Awards.

Moreover, Luang Prabang has received the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City Award and has also become a non-smoking city to promote a healthy and smoke-free environment.
“Over the past years, Luang Prabang has been selected to host meetings at various levels including provincial, national, sub-regional, and ASEAN regional meetings with great success,” Mr Khamkhan said.
We are honoured that at this time, Luang Prabang has once again been given the honour of hosting such important ASEAN related meetings and we do hope that we will have another opportunity to host important meetings like this in the near future, he said.

Luang Prabang is very proud of its peacefulness and safety, and its many cultural and natural tourist attractions.

The National Tourism Committee has approved a plan to develop routes along the Mekong River to link to Loei and Nong Khai in the northeast with Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos.

At the same time, the infrastructure of the province has been developed in order to ensure that it benefits from the ASEAN Economic Community integration which took place in 2015.

Source - Laotian Times

Friday, 2 February 2018

#Vietnam - Lotus farm-tourism model faces market hurdles in Mekong

MEKONG DELTA — Nguyễn Văn Hơn has been a farmer all of his life. Now, in his mid 50s, he is working as a tour guide.  

He is one of the first lotus farmers in the Mekong Delta to adopt the lotus–ecotourism model as an alternative to growing an unsustainable third rice crop every year (called the autumn-winter crop).

The owner of 4ha of lotus in Mỹ Hòa Commune in Đồng Tháp Province’s Tháp Mười District, Hơn began offering tourism services in 2013 when locals set up the Đồng Sen (lotus farm) ecotourism zone.

His business began to take off about two to three years ago, and during peak season from June to August, he welcomes around 50-100 tourists a day.

Visitors at his farm can pick lotus flowers and enjoy lotus specialties like salted roasted lotus seeds, rice cooked with lotus, sweet lotus dessert, and fresh lotus seeds.

“When I was growing only rice and lotus, my income was quite good, but when I started the tourism business, it definitely improved,” he said. “Last year, visitors from HCM City, Đồng Nai Province and even the central and northern regions came here.”
Over a period of four years, his business expanded by four-fold.
The Đồng Sen ecotourism zone has now expanded to 11ha, with tourism services the main source of income for local farmers taking part in the model, according to local authorities.

In the first half of 2017, the zone welcomed more than 36,000 local and international visitors and grossed more than VNĐ2.1 billion (US$92,000).

Though the province has encouraged more farmers to join the ecotourism model, not everyone has the skills needed to offer good services or the finances to invest in infrastructure.

Trần Văn Kịch, who has a 4.5ha area of lotus flowers only a 20-minute riverboat ride away from Hơn’s farm, has decided to breed fish on his lotus farm to increase income.

But unlike the lotus–ecotourism model in which the lotus output is bought by tourists, farmers like Kịch who rely on selling lotus seeds are worried about the price fluctuations of lotus.

“I’m not sure if I can sell lotus flowers at good prices this year,” he said. 

As he only sells fresh lotus seeds, he has to rely on prices offered by traders who visit his farm to buy lotus seeds and flowers directly from him.

Sometimes traders are willing to pay VNĐ12,000 per kilogramme, but later change their minds to VNĐ10,000 or even VNĐ8,000 after the lotus is picked, saying the plants are not “beautiful”, according to Kịch. 

Farmers have to sell the lotus plants soon after they picked, he said, because they could lose freshness if they are stored overnight.

“Unstable prices discourage farmers,” he said. “Besides, it’s not easy to find lotus pickers since many of them have moved to other places to work in factories or at construction sites.”
When asked why he still grows lotus even though many neighbours have stopped, he said: “My first thought was that I am doing this for the environment.”

Lotus leaves can also be a good source of organic fertiliser, he said. 

“After harvesting lotus and preparing for the next rice crop, I only need to use half of the fertiliser volume compared to other rice fields,” he added. 

The income from selling fish also helps him cover the expenses of growing lotus.