Tourist limits suggested to solve Koh Larn’s garbage crisis

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The head of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association suggested that limiting visitors to Koh Larn may be the only way to solve the island’s garbage problem.

Attracting an average of 10,000 tourists a day, Koh Larn has been building a mountain of garbage, a direct result of visitors and residents generating more trash than is barged from the island each day. Currently, the city hauls 20 tons of waste a day back to Pattaya for disposal in local dumps while the island generates about 30,000 tons a day on weekends and even more over long holidays.

Jaran Tiemmeung, head of maintenance of order and internal security at city hall, said there has been progress in reducing the quantity of dump-destined trash. Visitors increasingly separated recyclables and restaurants are composting more food, reducing the quantity of trash that has to be hauled back to the mainland.

PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn says that establishing tourist limits and more recycling are needed to help reduce the growing mountain of garbage on Koh Larn.PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn says that establishing tourist limits and more recycling are needed to help reduce the growing mountain of garbage on Koh Larn.

PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn said even more recycling is needed, however, if the garbage surplus is going to be erased. In the end, however, it may be that Pattaya will need to limit the daily visitors to the island to protect its environment.

He suggested the association commission a feasibility study on tourist limits. Currently there is no budget for it and, ultimately, the plan would need to be approved by the island’s tourism-dependent businesses.

“Assume that currently about 10,000 tourists go to Koh Larn each day. If we limit that to 7,000-8,000, would that be acceptable to Koh Larn residents or not?” Sinchai asked. “If not, what should the maximum number be?”

Sorasak Thongbongpetch, secretary for the Koh Larn Community, said many residents want to have a waste-management system, such as a recycling plant or incinerator, on the island. He believes it’s only a matter of time until Pattaya residents refuse to take the island’s trash.

The city already has experienced protests at a local transfer station by residents upset over the ripe smell of Koh Larn’s rotting discards.