Never has this been more pertinent than at a time where marine officials were forced to order three Thai isles closed to tourists. Koh Khai Nok,Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nai islands are those subject to the visitor ban, all of which are located a just few kilometres from Phuket. This is due to the damage that has been caused to a whopping 80 per cent of their coral reefs as happened this May.
The islands affected are down the East Coast of Phuket, and these are particularly prominent tourist areas which may be linked to the problem of coral reef degradation. In some of the areas even shops and restaurants have abandoned ship, as the ban means there will be far less footfall. Koh Tachai Island in the Similan National Park was the first to fall, and was announced to be off limits to visitors for ‘an indefinite period.
The bid to save the coral reefs is a noble one, and the short term loss of business is just that; because for the long term the islands need the draw of a healthy reef to sustain tourism businesses.
Tour operators in the area were notified by Phuket’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources that the ban was put in place due to the corals having ‘suffered damage’ in the area.
During the time of the ban, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources will work with tour operators, charter companies like us, local hotels and other organisations that work with tourists to promote coral care and the ethics of responsible tourism. Environmentally friendly tourism is the only way forward the world over, not just in Phuket. The signs of climate change are becoming more and more visible especially in these more remote areas of once outstanding ecological beauty.