in Thailand, paradise islands face a water shortage due to a prolonged heatwave

“The private company that supplies water to the islands may have to stop the supply,” warned a representative of the tourism sector in the Krabi region.



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Tourists in the Phi Phi archipelago, Thailand, February 23, 2024. (MD RAFAYAT HAQUE KHAN/ EYEPIX GR / SIPA)

Tourists visiting Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi archipelago can enjoy the turquoise waters surrounding its paradise islands, but may soon no longer be able to pour a glass of water. Made famous by the film “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, the archipelago is suffering from a serious water shortage, a tourism official and residents of the region alerted Thursday, May 9. “The private company that supplies water to the islands may have to stop the supply”warned Wichupan Phukaoluan Srisanya, president of the Krabi Area Hoteliers Association.

Located off the coast of Phuket (southwest), Koh Phi Phi attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. But in recent weeks, an unbearable dry heat wave has struck across Southeast Asia, causing a drastic drop in reservoir levels. A situation which could scare away tourists, and above all endanger residents exposed to more frequent, longer and more intense heatwaves due to climate change induced by human activities, such as intensive agricultural practices, cement production or even plane travel.

Faced with this situation, the authorities are considering transporting water from the continent. “We want to assure tourists planning to visit the islands that we can manage this situation,” reassured the hotelier quoted by AFP.

Deserted hotels

But according to residents cited by AFP, who asked not to be named, water shortages have lasted for months. Some hotels are almost empty because of this, they report, while review site TripAdvisor receives complaints from disappointed tourists, urging travelers to “check that their accommodation has fresh water” before the start of the stay.

In the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui, another popular tourist island, experienced similar dry and hot weather, but visitors were not affected, according to the local tourism office. And for good reason, a tanker truck travels back and forth with the continent. “But this triples the operating cost of hotels”said the president of the Koh Samui tourism association.

For nearly a week in April, authorities in Bangkok issued daily extreme heat warnings, felt temperature having exceeded 52°C. In Thailand, as in neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Burma and the Philippines, hundreds of heat records have been broken.

Since the 19th century, the average temperature of the Earth warmed by 1.1°C. Scientists have established with certainty that this increase is due to human activities, which consume fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). This warming, unprecedented in its speed, threatens the future of our societies and biodiversity. But solutions – renewable energies, sobriety, reduced meat consumption – exist. Discover our answers to your questions on the climate crisis.

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