In the past 1-2 years, news, videos or viral video clips from different media showed the huge amount of garbage in the sea. Various aquatic animals no matter how big and small are affected whether it is a small fish suffocated to death after trapped into a plastic bag or a whale that died with a belly full of plastic bags. Among all the garbage, plastic straws and plastic bags contribute a huge negative impact to the environment since these items decompose slowly, but enter the ocean easily. When humans are more affected in some ways, we began to realize about how harmful our innovation can be. Many convenience stores began to stop offering plastic containers. Of course, the hotel and tourism business which is one of the most related industries, is going to be questioned by society on what can they do to help preserve this world?

In response to the question, hotel and tourism business operators in Phuket therefore jointly organized PHIST, which stands for Phuket Hotels for the Sustaining Tourism Forum. In this event, entrepreneurs in the tourism industry gather together to discuss and create sustainable tourism models in Phuket. As you know, Phuket is one of the top tourism cities in the country. The discussion of PHIST does not just for stimulating and laying the foundation for sustainable tourism in Phuket but also acting as a model for other tourism cities.

The author had attended the past PHIST as an observer. This seminar has more than 500 participants from various countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong. In addition to the discussion about sustainable tourism, there are many issues that Phuket people take part in helping to conserve environment.

Reduce the use of disposable plastic

65 hotel and resort business operators in Phuket agreed to reduce the use of disposable plastic in Phuket according to the 3R concept, namely reducing, reusing and recycling. Reducing: reduce the amount of waste. Use a cloth bag instead of a plastic bag and not create unnecessary waste. Reusing: use plastic bags or cloth bags for many times before disposing. Recycling: Recycle the things that we can’t use again into raw materials such as recycling plastic water bottles into fibers for t-shirt. Many 5-star luxury hotels has already adopted this concept such as Six Senses Hotel Resort & Spa, Trisara, JW Marriott, etc.

Bernhard Bohnenberger, President of Six Senses Hotel Resort & Spa, said: “Reducing plastic use is the heart of sustainability in our ten years of driving. It’s time for business operators to be alert about this issue which we need cooperation and action to achieve concrete changes and results”

Supervise and provide education to the community

No one could take care of the community as good as people in the community. With that belief, 65 hotel and resort business operators share a common commitment that every property must educate communities in the neighborhood to ensure that people in the community are aware of plastic problems on the island. Currently, the concept has been adopted by the hotels and resorts in Laguna.

Create a waste recycling center

Anthony Lark, president of the Phuket Hotel Association, revealed that one of the agenda items discussed this time is the “Creating a waste recycling center” project, a big project that Phuket entrepreneurs want it to happen. This waste recycling center must also be a tourist attraction, learning center and really be used. The project is currently in the study period, but certainly we want it to happen.

Although the discussion this time does not produce much concrete results but it is considered an important step for business operators and hotels in Phuket.

“We have to fight for Phuket. We have to do it together. We have worked together to create an alliance of public and private tourism operators that understand the important needs in the process and think in the long term. We hope that the Phuket’s promise will be the starting point and will become a model for us and other islands in the region to work together for the benefit of sustainable island tourism in Asia, “Anthony Lark said.

This year, PHIST will start again in September. Let’s see what kind of measures will be issued to help the earth after starting with the first step by inviting 65 entrepreneurs to reduce the use of disposable plastic which has positive responses and they can actually do so. Don’t be shocked if you go to hotels or resorts in Phuket and find that there are no straws available or they use substitute materials that easily decompose.