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Trends: Toxic Tourists May Bleach Corals

Thursday, January 31, 2008
REEFS: Killers in Cream
RESEARCHERS SAY that divers using sunscreen may be helping to kill off coral reefs, according to the online magazine Nature.com .

Marine biologist Roberto Danovaro from the Polytechnic University of Marche in Ancona, Italy, and colleagues collected and tested small amounts of coral from the Indian Ocean off Thailand, the Caribbean Sea off Mexico, the Red Sea off Egypt and the Pacific Ocean near Indonesia.

Nature.com reports that when they incubated each sample in seawater spiked with as little as 10 microlitres of sunscreen per litre, ''coral bleaching occurred within four days.''

Test coral in plain seawater remained healthy.

''I'm not suggesting anyone should get burned,'' Danovaro says, ''just that they use a physical sunscreen instead."

That should be a boon for copy t-shirt manufacturers.

Other biologists say that with divers visiting less than 10 percent of the world's coral reefs, global warming may be a more important issue for now.

We have just one question:
In a place like the Andaman, where numbers of visitors are uncontrolled and the future of the reefs is causing grave concern for economic reasons as well as the desire to protect them for future generations, how do you tell tourists not to wear sunscreens?

The details of the research are contained in a forthcoming issue of Environmental Health Perspectives..

AIR CUTS: Chiang Mai Setback
HONG KONG Express Airways recently terminated its scheduled services to Chiang Mai amid concerns that Thailand's northern air hub is losing tourist appeal.

Tiger Airways has slashed its flights on the Singapore-Chiang Mai route to two from six a week.

In contrast to Phuket, where flight numbers are close to capacity, shiny Chiang Mai airport is underused.

Airports of Thailand inversted two billion baht in the past few years in expanding the airport and encourage international flights, according to the Bangkok Post.

The airport handles about three million passengers a year, mostly domestic passengers, compared to its design capacity of eight million a year.

It's surely time similar amounts were spent on a long-term plan to help Phuket cope with what could be eight million tourists within five years.


VISITORS: India v China
THE Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target to increase the number of Indian visitors to 600,000 this year from 500,000 in 2007.

At the same time, latest figures reveal Hong Kong, one of Asia's hottest destinations, hopes to welcome more than 30 million visitors in 2008.

More than half of those will come from China. Yet Hong Kong is fending off a resurgent Macau.

The number of visitors to the neighboring gambling capital jumped almost 23 percent in 2007 to over 27 million, putting the former backwater on track to outgun its more restrained neighbor very soon.

Once this year's Beijing Olympic Games are out of the way, perhaps Phuket might attract a larger slice of the non-gambling China market.

Look for TRENDS at Phuketwan regularly

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Wednesday February 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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