The Koh Phi Phi Islands Instructor: The Koh Phi Phi Islands Introduction Tourism is often regarded as the fastest growing service industry worldwide, whereas ecotourism is said to be the fastest growing component (the economist, 1998; Chon, 2000, pg.1)…
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90). Its premier tourist sites can be categorized into three primary geographical locations, Northern Thailand, Central Thailand and southern Thailand. Northern Thailand is celebrated for the cultural experiences it affords, such as trekking adventures in the hill tribe areas and exploration of the temples in the ancient Siam capital. Central Thailand offers the attraction of Bangkok, boasting high-end luxury hotels, cultural events and a burgeoning nightlife. Southern Thailand on the other hand is branded the relaxation area, where sun, sand and the sea meet (Nelson, et al., 2007, pg. 27). This diversified offering did not emerge spontaneously, but is a product of the country nurturing of its tourism sector (Nelson, et al., 2007, pg. 27). Tourism has since then become an important source of revenue in Thailand especially due to its beautiful beaches and exotic flavor. In 1982, during the economic slump, the government heavily promoted tourism to counter the slump. As a result, there was a large push to create new beaches and island resorts to attract foreign visitors (Baker, et al., 2005; Nelson, et al., 2007, pg. 28). However, tourism resources have been exploited to produce short-term profits rather than long-run gains for the entire economy and local development. This has resulted in the degradation of the environment and culture and many tourist attractions have subsequently closed down or lost popularity (Lebel, et al., 2010, pg. 210). This paper examines the case of Koh Phi Phi, an island in southern Thailand, which after the tsunami of 2004 was thinking of moving towards a more sustainable form of tourism after years of unchecked development. It will identify both sustainable and unsustainable practices in the tourism industry of Koh Phi Phi, and propose measures which can be undertaken to move the industry in a new sustainable direction. Introduction to the Koh Phi Phi Islands The islands of Koh Phi Phi are located in Southerneast asia, a short boat ride from Thailand’s main tourist island of Phuket in the Andaman sea. It is located in a National Marine Park. Although there are a few international resorts on the island, developments are predominantly in Tingsai, the main town. The island started as a back packer destination but gained immense popularity and underwent intense costruction after The Beach was filmed on Phi Phi Leh in 2000 (Graci, et al., 2010, pg. 91). It is a delightful place to spend some days relaxing on its beautiful beaches, discovering its numerous coves and bays, as well as climbing its precipitous vertical peaks and investigating the huge caves that hide the edible nests of swifts Before 2004, tourism numbers had reached approximately 1.2 million years (Graci, et al., 2010, pg. 91). However, the island suffered from enviromental issues such as lack of or no fresh water, expensive generator-produced electricity, ineffective waste management , beach degradation and rapid development with no formal planning (Dodds, 2010, pg. 255). The residents faced appaling conditions; standing waste water, strong odours and ground water pollution from overflowing septic tanks. In December 2004 a tsunami struck Koh Phi Phi. The major reef was damaged and a large part of the infrustracture was destroyed this resulted to tourist numbers going down from 1.2 million to approximately 500,000 per annum. (Graci, et al., 2010, pg. 91). This thereby necesitated the need for the redevelopment of the Koh
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