Tourism stakeholders promised a plastic-free future for Phuket with the establishment of a model for the future development of islands throughout Asia through the embracing of sustainability as a core practice for the industry.
More than 500 tourism professionals from leading hotels and tourism groups converged to Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism Forum 2018 (PHIST) yesterday, where they signed the “Phuket Pledge” at the JW Marriott Mai Khao in Phuket.
They debated the key issues regarding island sustainability and agreed to #fight4phuket. They also set urgent goals for long-term change.
The Phuket Pledge is a commitment to reducing, reusing and recycling single-use plastic in Phuket with the aim to eradicate it in all hotels and resorts.
In addition, the stakeholders vowed to undertake a youth community education programmed to ensure grassroots awareness of the critical problems surrounding plastic usage on the island.
“Plastic reduction has been at the core of our company sustainability efforts for over a decade,” said Six Senses Hotels Resorts and Spas President Bernhard Bohnenberger, adding that, “The industry is finally waking up to this issue, but we need coordination and action to make a tangible change and see results. This is what we hope PHIST will go a long way to achieving.”
Supported by the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, PHIST is the largest hospitality event dedicated to sustainability in Asia, where over 550 delegates from countries including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong gathered at the JW Marriott Mai Khao in Phuket to debate key issues.
Environmental and sustainability storylines have been global press leads for the past six months, many of which have focused on islands in Asia. Earlier in the year, Thailand’s booming industry made a stand with the closure of iconic tourist attractions such as Maya Bay in Phi Phi Island and the closure of Boracay in the Philippines. Both were shut to allow for environmental regeneration.
With the 10 Bali’s campaign in Indonesia – an island focused tourism strategy that looks to leverage the expansive archipelago – and the emerging marine tourism industries in Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia – the issues of sustainable tourism in Asia’s islands has shot to the top of the regional agenda.
“We need to fight for Phuket. It is as simple as that. And we can’t do it alone. We need to do it together,” said Phuket Hotel Association President and Managing Director of Trisara, Anthony Lark.
Lark said a lot of people have worked to build an inclusive coalition of public and private sector tourism groups who understand the critical need to act and think long term.
“We hope the Phuket Pledge will be a start and ultimately become a model for us and other islands regionally to come together for the sake of sustainable island tourism in Asia,” he said.
PHIST was opened by the Deputy Governor of Phuket, Khun Prakob Wongmaneerung, and featured experts in their respective fields, focusing on marine and coastal tourism, sustainability, youth education and community tourism.
These included Thai Hotels Association Vice President & Environmental Chairperson Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, Central Pattana Senior Vice President Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau Senior Manager Pat Satkhum, Tajara Leisure & Hospitality Group CEO Cyndy Tan Jarabata from the Philippines and Horwath HTL Indonesia Matt Gebbie.
PHIST is co-organised by Phuket Hotels Association, C9 Hotelworks led by Managing Director Bill Barnett and Greenview CEO Eric Ricaurte. Sponsorship and endorsement is from the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Thai Hotel Association, Central Phuket, BMW, Blue Tree Phuket, C9 Hotelworks, Greenview, AmCham, QUO and Delivering Asia Communications.