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Samui is planning on marketing itself as a low-carbon tourist destination in the next three to five years by reducing energy consumption and resolving some of its environmental problems. Samui is facing serious energy shortages that, according to the chairman of the Koh Samui Tourist Promotion Association, Thanongsak Somwong, is due to rapid growth in the tourism industry.
Koh Samui gets its power from the mainland and the consumption rate is rising by 20% a year. Local administration has raised the supply to 100 megawatts, (up from 95) but this is not likely to support the islands increasing need for power for more than ten years. Mr. Thanongsak said that a solution is being sought for sustainable growth and he believes low-carbon tourism in the answer.
The island has been chosen by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatoin grouping to become a model low-carbon island in the region. However, tourist locations on the island still face power cuts as they use four times more energy than regular households.
Three strategies will be implemented to achieve low-carbon tourism, the first of which will be zoning that will clearly identify green areas and commercial areas that will allow buildings to be constructed higher than twelve meters. The second plan will address the traffic situation on the roads and some sort of public transport service will be provided so people have the option of leaving their own transport at home. The third measure will address electricity consumption by use of solar energy that could half the demand for power on the island.
Green hotels will play a big part in the transformation, and some hotels on the island have already prepared themselves for the changes and have made their properties environmentally friendly. Green hotels can charge up to 50% more for their rooms.
The Energy Minister has proposed up to an 8 million baht investment to help develop Samui as a low-carbon destination and will seek cabinet approval for the budget in October.