On January 12th, there was a meeting of the Phuket Beach Environment Quality Assessment Committee held in Phuket’s Natural Resource and Environment Office.
The main agendas of the meeting were to set up the committee to assess the environment quality of beaches around Phuket, to announce the name of 16 beaches that join the 2011 Star Beach Project, to report the result of the project in 2010, to brainstorm the way to assess beach environments in 2011, and to report the results of beach environment assessments in 2009 and find the ways to improve the environment quality of the beaches assessed. The committee included Juthamas Rattikansukha, acting in place of the Director of Marine Section, Department of Pollution Control, Paiboon Upatising, the President of Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization (PPAO), Ongart Chanachanmonkon, the Director of Phuket Natural Resource and Environment Office, and Puritat Teerakulpisoot, Head of Region 5 Marine Office Phuket.
Juthamas said that Department of Pollution Control had been doing Star Beach projects since 2002 with the intention to maintain the natural environment on beaches of Thailand. The beaches joining the project would be assessed once every 2 years. The last assessment was done in 2009. The committee assessed the environment of the beaches by looking at the quality of sea water, the amount of rubbish in the sea, etc. For this year, the assessment would take place in February – March. There were 4 dimensions that the committee assesses: pollution, natural condition, tourism management, and environmental management.
Last time there were 14 beaches joining the assessment. Next time there were 16 beaches to be assessed. From last time, the assessments included high bacteria in sea water, not enough trash management, beaches having too many umbrellas, beach chairs, and buildings, with no warning signs on the beaches, and some too noisy.
Niwit Aroonrat, a Vice Governor of Phuket, said that the some of the assessment comments were not fair for beaches of Phuket where most are popular beaches. He said that the criteria should be matched with Phuket beaches’ physical characteristics. Moreover, the 3 star rating that most of the beaches got did not create a good image of Phuket in terms of tourism, despite their popularity.