The Phuket Hotels Association has achieved a
major victory in its drive to secure a more sustainable future for
Thailand’s most popular resort destination.
Central Group, Thailand’s largest retailer and
owner of Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, Tops
Supermarket and Family Mart brands, has pledged to abolish the
practice of giving away free plastic bags to customers in Phuket.
The move forms part of a new joint initiative
with the Phuket Hotels Association, which will see Central
Phuket’s customers pay for reusable bags made by the residents of
local orphanages or shelter homes. Proceeds from the sale of these
environmentally friendly bags will go directly to the
disadvantaged Phuket residents who made them.
The re-usable bag scheme marks the first
tangible benefit from PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining
Tourism). The inaugural PHIST Forum will take place on 24 January
2018 at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa and will feature a
series of expert keynote speakers, topical talks and technical
workshops on the critical issues of sustainable development,
corporate sustainability, community tourism and global
PHIST is being supported by the Thailand
Convention and Events Bureau (TCEB), Tourism Authority of Thailand
(TAT), BMW Group Thailand, Blue Tree Phuket, as well as Central
Phuket. The event, which is free to attend, is expected to attract
more than 500 delegates.
Central Phuket’s Senior Vice President, Ms
Wilaiporn Pitimanaaree, said, “Plastic waste is one of the biggest
problems facing the world today, especially in coastal
destinations like Phuket. So we are delighted to partner with
PHIST and the Phuket Hotels Association to help cut plastic waste
on the island. This campaign, which is part of our wider
commitment to plastic reduction, will help the people of Phuket
while also preserving the island’s pristine environment.”
The goal of PHIST is to raise awareness about
environmental issues in Southeast Asia’s island destinations and
to drive change within the industry. It also supports the Phuket
Hotels Association’s on-going “People.Planet.Phuket” campaign,
which aims to educate local communities and visitors about the
importance of the “Three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).
Approximately five million plastic bags will
make their way into the world’s oceans this year alone, and this
presents a huge problem for the environment – especially the
estimated 100,000 marine creatures that die from plastic
entanglement every year. Even the plastic bags that don’t end up
in the sea will usually be dumped in landfill sites and some
plastic bags can take over 1,000 years to decompose.
PHIST will help the retail and hospitality
industries to identify alternatives to plastic. A Green Suppliers’
Exhibition will be hosted during the event, while the organisers
of PHIST will give away merchandise including recycled bags.
Delegates’ name badges will be made from re-used teak wood.
“Central Group is Thailand’s largest and leading
retail group, so its pledge to significantly reduce the use of
plastic bags is hugely significant,” said Anthony Lark, President
of the Phuket Hotels Association. “This is a wonderful example of
cross-sectoral collaboration, as two of Phuket’s biggest
industries – tourism and retail – come together for the benefit of
the entire island. We look forward to achieving more positive
partnerships through PHIST as this exciting event draws closer.”
The pledge for Central Phuket to stop giving
plastic bags to customers will initially be limited to the
company’s department stores in Phuket, but if successful it could
be rolled out further afield – including to Central’s large
network of supermarkets. In fact, the company has already
committed to stop giving plastic bags to its supermarket customers
on every third day of every month.