Covid-19 has hit Thailand’s tourism industry hard, but for nature… it’s been a welcome respite.
Endangered sea turtles like the leatherbacks have come back to nest after disappearing from Thai beaches for several years.
In the video, we meet marine biologist Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, who says 30 to 40 years ago, there were records of leatherback turtles nesting along the Andaman coast. Yet, because of fishing and the travel boom, the nesting stopped for six years.
Then came the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourist arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 from 39.9 million the previous year, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Electricity use at the beaches fell and the sea turtles began to return. The government, tour operators and residents also worked together to make sure the sea turtles thrive.
“If we find out that the sea turtles laid eggs, we will set up a fence,” says Suriya Sornserm from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. “If the area might be affected by floods or the monsoon, we will move the eggs to a safer place and make another fence.
“After that, we would organise guards, which is a policy from the ministry, and cooperate with the local community to take turn as guards to help take care of the eggs for 24 hours.”
Other parts of nature are also on the mend. Sornserm has seen the revival of coral reefs as the sea has become cleaner.
Dr. Thamrongnawasawat hopes that Thailand rethinks its tourism industry. “We have two or three years to restart Thailand… to really think about green tourism, about ecotourism, about the people, he says. “We might not need as many people as we used to.”
View the original video here.
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