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Maya crowds: no escaping the tourism boom

Trends: A Crowded Beach and One Lonely Death

Saturday, March 22, 2008
ON MAYA BEACH this week, walking about in a gloriously beautiful spot with hundreds of others, I couldn't help wondering about the craziness of our crowded planet.

The speed boats and longtails line almost the entire water's edge at this popular Phi Phi destination during high season, all day, every day.

The place is packed. It takes a vivid imagination to picture the scene as it must have been once, and probably remains at night, enchantingly serene and still.

We all want to enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer. Yet we really all long to do it alone, in solitude and serenity.

Those special solitary moments are the ones we cherish most.

A couple of days earlier, Swedish tourist Hanna Backlund paid the ultimate price for wanting to enjoy the natural beauty of Phuket's Mai Khao beach on her own.

That's the difference between Maya and Mai Khao. Yet despite Hanna Backlund's sad and undeserved fate, the desire to be alone in a crowded world will endure.

Our Crowded Planet II

TWO sets of figures this week highlight the huge scale of the industry that tourism has become.

Statistics released by the Airports Council International revealed that travellers on domestic and international flights totalled 4.5 billion in 2007. That's quite a crowd.

While the number of travellers was up 6.4 per cent on 2006 and marked a "banner year" for the industry, the ACI warned that instability on financial markets, rising fuel prices, currency devaluations and restructuring by airlines could make 2008 more testing.

The Asia-Pacific region was up 7.7 per cent to 1.05 billion. Atlanta (90 million) Chicago O'Hare (76 million) and London's Heathrow (68 million) were the world's three busiest airports.

Our Crowded Planet III

MARRIOTT International is planning to add more than 140 hotels and resorts outside the US and Canada, representing more than 34,000 rooms in 43 countries, over the next four years.

Among those will be the three Courtyard by Marriott resorts on Phuket this year.

That's in anticipation of the one billion international tourism arrivals expected by 2010. Fortunately, they are not all heading for Phuket.

Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging at Marriott, made the point that ''sustainability is the key here if we are to reap the many positive benefits of increased travel and tourism.

''We must all do our part. The travel industry is the biggest in the world and promises to grow exponentially over the next 50 years. We cannot ignore the realities.

''Those of us in the travel industry have a role to play now in reducing our impact on the air we breathe, the water we drink and the destinations where we do business.''

Among internal initiatives, including tree-planting programs, Marriott International recently announced:

.. a goal to reduce greenhouse gasses by one million tons by 2010

.. a program to replace 4500 outdoor signs with LED and fibre-optic technology that has yielded a 40 percent reduction in outdoor advertising energy use in its first year

.. a reduction in water consumption of more than 15 percent over the last five years

.. a program in which 96 percent of all its hotels recycle.

''Let's face it,'' Mr Fuller said. ''When travelers make their buying decision, they generally do not select a destination because they want to stay in a particular hotel.

''They pick a destination because they want to experience its cultural or culinary attractions, environmental areas or places of historical significance.

''It is our duty to protect and preserve these destinations.''

This is precisely the point that officials at the Tourism Authority of Thailand are making about Phuket.

There's now a pressing need for local authorities to respond in the same way.

Look For TRENDS regularly at Phuketwan

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Thursday December 9, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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