Putting a Price on Paradise: Economic Policies to Preserve Thailand's Coral Reefs
Millions of people have read about "The Beach" and or seen it in the Leonardo de Caprio film, while many others have visited it, or similar ones, in Thailand's Andaman sea. And there lies the rub: The famous 'paradise' islands of Phi Phi are so popular that they are in danger of being loved to death. Tourists from all over the world are putting increasing pressure on this fragile ecosystem. In response to this problem, a new study has found justification to introduce a system of charges to reduce the pressure on the islands' coral reefs and provide money for their conservation. This study is not only important for its implications for the islands of Phi Phi. As the first study of its kind in Thailand, it is also relevant to many other marine sites in the country. To investigate what options might be available for improved marine conservation and management in Phi Phi, the study used a number of valuation methods to work out the economic value of the coral reefs around the islands. It found that the annual value of the area to visitors was over 8,200 million baht (US$205 million). The study also found that the use and non-use values of Phi Phi coral reefs represented an annual value of some 19,900 million baht (US$497 million). Based on this results, this study recommended that the local and national government of Thailand should allocate a larger percentage of their annual budgets to managing coastal resources and that tourists should be charged an admission fee of 40 baht (USD 1) alongside other payments for using the island's resources.
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