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As Thailand’s tourism trajectory declines, Phuket fights back on sustainability platform

As Thailand’s tourism trajectory declines, Phuket fights back on sustainability platform

Phuket is preparing to drive forward the sustainability agenda as it readies to host PHIST 2019, the annual event that unites the travel industry in the fight against environmental degradation in Southeast Asia’s idyllic island destinations.

Organised by the Phuket Hotels Association, C9 Hotelworks and Greenview, PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism) 2019 is a free-to-attend one-day conference that takes place on Thursday 23rd September 2019 at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa. The important event will gather approximately 1,000 delegates, including more than 70 of Phuket’s leading hotels, retailers and other key stakeholders from across the region, to discuss critical environmental issues and devise ways of tackling them head-on.

This year, a key focus will be on the decline of visitor arrivals to Phuket, and how sustainable tourism can help lead the recovery. PHIST 2019 will be attended by Kanokkrittika Kritwutthikorn, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Director for Phuket, who will provide an overview of how the Tourism Authority of Thailand is aiming to ensure the island’s long-term future by targeting more high-end, eco-conscious travelers.

“The recent drop in arrivals to Phuket shows just how damaging the boom and bust of mass tourism can be. More than 15,000 new hotel rooms are set to enter the market over the next five years, but who will fill them? Phuket, like all island destinations, needs to develop a sustainable tourism industry that works for the island, is immune to global economic volatility, and ensures the preservation of the island’s natural resources for generations to come. We are delighted to partner with the TAT at PHIST 2019 to help create a viable future for Phuket,” said Bill Barnett, Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks.

Another important delegate will be Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, Senior Vice President of Central Pattana Group, who used last year’s inaugural PHIST to announce their own pledge to stop giving out plastic bags to their customers. This has resulted in the reduction of more than four million plastic bags per month.

Guests at PHIST 2019 will work proactively with the TAT and each other to devise creative and original ways of managing mass tourism in Southeast Asia’s island destinations. By the end of the day, the participants will sign a collaborative pledge for the sustainable management of the tourism industry.

These pledges work: last year at PHIST 2018, the Phuket Hotels Association’s 71 hotels agreed to remove single-use plastic water bottles from their properties. This has resulted in a 51% reduction in 2019, and over 4.4 million bottles saved. In addition, Phuket Hotels Association are now launching the Great Big Green Guide, a collection of eco-friendly ideas and practices.

PHIST 2019 will also aim to engage the next generation, with a series of children’s workshops and activities. The forum will also feature the final of Green Beat 60, a film-making contest that invites eco warriors of all ages to have their say on critical issues.

“At PHIST 2019, we want to push sustainability to the top of the agenda by tackling the key issue facing Asia’s island destination: the shift from mass tourism to a more sustainable future. We want all visitors to be able to experience our wonderful destinations, but this must be achieved without negatively impacting the environment,” said Anthony Lark, President of Phuket Hotels Association.

A major supporter of PHIST 2019 is Blue Tree Phuket, a new water and entertainment destination that is set to become the island’s premier family attraction. Set over 140 rai, the impressive complex features a four-storey beach club, fitness zone, kid’s club, multiple retail spaces and 17 F&B outlets, with the centrepiece a huge Crystal Lagoon. Blue Tree represents the new generation of tourism developments which puts sustainability at its heart, building responsibly from the ground up, using advanced methods that maximise water and energy efficiency, whilst slashing chemical use and reducing waste.

“Blue Tree Phuket is proud to partner PHIST 2019, as part of our continued effort to make our region’s tourism industry greener. We have spent the last two years developing our state-of-the-art, integrated tourism and leisure facility in a responsible and low-impact way. We look forward to working with the Phuket Hotels Association to advance the debate about sustainable tourism,” said Michael Ayling, CEO of Blue Tree Phuket.

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