From the glossy brochures and flashy advertisements, Thailand appears to have the stuff that vacation dreams are made of. But underneath the spectacular island views, the myriad of sun-drenched beaches and the clear blue waters lays a paradise on the verge of ruin. Thailand: Holiday Paradise in Danger examines the toll that tourist congestion has taken on the natural splendor of the country.
Thailand plays host to over 34 million tourists a year. They come for the paragliding, the underwater adventures, and the chance to lay eyes upon the setting of a famous James Bond film.
But their footprint endangers the very qualities that drew them to the country in the first place. Divers frequently fish their garbage out of the waters. Piles of plastic waste lie deserted on the otherwise pristine sandy beaches. The coral reefs are disintegrating amidst the trampling of millions of feet. The vitality of the ecosystem is dwindling, endangering the quality of life for humans and wildlife alike.
The glorious underwater environment is still teaming with a diverse array of sea life, but the purity of the ocean has diminished substantially just in the past decade. Heaps of garbage can be found on the sea bed, the beautiful coral reefs are eroding, and the surface of the waters play host to masses of untreated sewage and plastic trash. The brilliant blue waters have been clouded.
Through it claimed the lives of over 700 residents and tourists, memories of the catastrophic 2004 tsunami have faded. Little has been done to ensure fewer casualties should another disaster strike. The economic allure of tourism has called for enhanced hotel construction, but there has been no progress in developing satisfactory evacuation plans for any of these structures. Meanwhile, this unprecedented increase in tourism dollars has done little to improve the lives of everyday residents. In short, this level of tourist traffic is unsustainable under the current system.
Thailand: Holiday Paradise in Danger takes a deep dive into the realities of the region - from economics to pollution to climate change - and exposes a corroding ecosystem that might have already reached its breaking point.
Directed by: Johannes Höflich, Jo Angerer