Deserted expanses of sand, crystal-clear water … the island of Phuket has lost more than 90% of its 14 million annual tourists. To understand what is happening on the beaches of Thailand, you have to go to the airport in Bangkok, the capital. The borders are not closed, but the health measures to enter the territory are drastic: PCR tests, medical certificates, health insurance… And above all, visitors are placed in quarantine in hotels, at their expense. Thanks to these protocols, Thailand has a good health record: around a hundred deaths linked to Covid, one of the best results in the world.
“They came on January 1st”
Tourism has collapsed, but for nature, the pandemic has certain positive consequences: the beaches deserted by vacationers welcome new visitors … Indeed, for the first time in more than twenty years, turtles have returned to lay their eggs. their eggs under the sand.
Thai scientists in the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) are very proud of it. To protect them from other animals – reptiles, monitor lizards or dogs – they set up an enclosure facing the sea. Chinnakorn Thongchai, marine biologist interviewed by “Special Envoy”, has no doubts: if the turtles have made a comeback on this beach is good because tourists are absent.
Between the anguish of losing the income it derived from tourism (which represented 20% of its gross domestic product) and the pleasure of rediscovering the beauty of nature, Thailand is now wondering: can it, should it change tourism model and turn to more reasoned development, in accordance with the protection of the environment and its ecosystems?
Extract from “Thailand, paradise rediscovered”, a report to see in “Special Envoy” on April 8, 2021.