The idyllic, tropical beaches of Thailand are one of its main tourist attractions. Unfortunately, this has also played havoc on some areas of the country. Everyone in the world has heard about the closure of Maya Bay. It was due to an excess of visitors that caused significant damage to the underwater ecosystem of the bay.
Some popular beaches are facing similar fates unless development is reined in. The existing businesses, restaurants and hotels along the beaches must be made to follow a set of rules and regulations that ensure a sustainable future for Thailand.
Paragon of Sustainability
One island that has gotten it right is the island of Koh Mak in Trat province. A visit to Koh Mak is like a welcome breath of fresh air.
The island offers tourism on a much smaller and quieter scale than most resorts in Thailand. This privately-owned island took the path of sustainability long ago before it was fashionable, and they continue to reap the benefits of this policy.
This is an island that relies on sustainable agriculture over tourism to feed most of its population. The hotels and restaurants on the island buy local ingredients and hire local staff.
Along the pristine beaches, there are only low-rise resort hotels and the water surrounding the island is crystal-clear because of a strict law against dumping sewage.
Those looking for wild nightlife will be disappointed by Koh Mak as there is very little to be found. Days are spent kayaking around the island, snorkelling among the brilliant coral reefs surrounding the island, or taking a bike ride along the paths and trails that wind through the fields and wooded expanses of the island.
Evenings are spent enjoying a sunset drink along the beach, staring at the stars, and having some of the freshest seafood found in Thailand. Koh Mak is an island that everyone should experience to see what can be attained with a programme of sustainability over rampant growth.