Containment of Negative Tourism Impact
Cultural pollution can be a worrisome side effect of tourism. All the resorts and facilities at Laguna Phuket provide an atmosphere of healthy recreation and relaxation with outstanding facilities for both families and individuals. A conscious effort is sustained to avoid the social pollution evident at some other tourist destinations.
Approximately 3,000 local people are employed at Laguna Phuket. Staff turnover is generally very low, which is no doubt due to superior working conditions. Internal and external training is comprehensive, to ensure that staff are confident about carrying out their responsibilities efficiently. Committee meetings are held regularly so staff have the opportunity to offer comments or suggestions concerning work, benefits and welfare. Job opportunities for older people are available; many of the gardeners are aged around 50 and Laguna Phuket greatly appreciates their wealth of horticultural experience.
Many staff incentive activities are organized. These include annual Family Days, Staff Parties and Sports Days. All these social events help to create good relationships amongst staff and management.
Consultation services are available to assist employees with any problems they might have. A staff newsletter, the Laguna Phuket News, is published to keep staff up to date with happenings in the resort complex. Access to an on-site computer training centre is available and staff can take advantage of discounted rates at a centrally located medical centre operated by the Bangkok Hospital Phuket. Involvement with local villagers is also promoted, for example through sporting events and Cleaning Days to keep the environment around the hotels and Bang Tao Beach tidy and safe for everybody, not just guests at the resort.
The Laguna Childcare Centre was established in 1992 to provide care for the children of construction workers building the resorts at Laguna Phuket. After they had finished the work, the centre was opened to children of Laguna Phuket employees and some other local children. Laguna Phuket supports all expenses of classroom facilities, teachers, lunches and medical care. Caring for the children’s health and providing a quality education have been cornerstones of the centre’s program. Since April 2001, this successful enterprise has been housed in larger premises with ten classrooms, so that as many as 200 children are able to enjoy the benefits offered.
Local Traders and Businesses
Many local businesses clearly profit from the existence of Laguna Phuket. Apart from other necessities, an enormous amount of food is consumed at the resort complex and as much fresh produce as possible is purchased from local traders.
The management of Laguna Phuket supports local tourism operators that it feels show commitment to eco-tourism. Two such examples are Siam Safari, an elephant trekking and island day tour company which offers visitors the chance to see rubber-tapping, weaving and other traditional village activities.
Banyan Tree Gallery outlets stock traditional handicrafts, jewelry and textiles from all over Thailand, encouraging the survival of cottage industries.
Support for Community Welfare and Projects
Thai Buddhist temples or wats are an important part of the community, both spiritually and socially. Laguna Phuket has given support to local temples in various ways, such as sponsoring a series of 25 murals painted at the 60-year old Buddhist temple, Wat Cherngtalay. These murals detail the life of the Lord Buddha, and have not only added to the beauty of the temple, but also provide instruction to those who have not or can not read the lessons of the Lord Buddha’s life. The Bang Tao Mosque has also received regular support from Laguna Phuket.
Laguna Resorts & Hotels Scholarship Fund was established in 1993 with a contribution of 2 million Baht from Laguna Phuket. The objective is to provide scholarships for deserving students in Phuket, who would otherwise be unable to pursue education. The Governor of Phuket is the chairman of the selection committee.
In Thailand, elderly people are held in great respect. Laguna Phuket upholds this tradition in several ways, for example, by hosting an annual lunch at one of the hotels for residents from the Phuket Home for the Aged.
Laguna Phuket helps the Thai Red Cross Society by selling raffle tickets and donating prizes for its annual fair. The Red Cross also receives blankets and used linen from the hotels.
Annual blood donations from staff are organized to help boost the blood bank of Wachira Hospital in Phuket Town.
Each year, the Phuket Disabled Fund receives a donation from Laguna Phuket. Support is also given to the Songkla University Golf Charity, the Phuket Professional Guide Association, and the Phuket International Women’s Club who support under-privileged young Thai women and children.
Local sporting events, such as football, boxing, fishing and golf also receive donations from Laguna Phuket.
Religious and Other Holidays
The annual National Children’s Day is celebrated extravagantly at Laguna Phuket. Typically, thousands of families attend the festivities which include displays by the Royal Thai Army and police, extensive games, competitions and entertainment. Each child receives free ice-cream, snacks and a souvenir to commemorate the day.
On Buddhist Lent Day, Laguna Phuket arranges a procession with floating candles at the nearby Cherngtalay temple. The temple also receives a donation to mark the Kathin Festival. During the annual Vegetarian Festival an altar is placed at the entrance to Laguna Phuket and donations are made to shrines in the village.
Loy Krathong is a Buddhist festival that takes place at the end of the rainy season on the full moon in October or November. Respect is paid to the Goddess of Water by lighting candles on offerings made from banana leaves and flowers and setting them afloat on open water. The event is enjoyed by both staff and hotel guests.
During the month of Ramadan, a dinner is hosted at Laguna Phuket for Muslim villagers attending the Bang Tao Mosque. Laguna Phuket also participates in the Bang Tao Night Fishing Games, which raise funds for the Muslim Education Centre at the Mosque.
‘Songkran Day’ falls on 13 April every year, to mark the Thai New Year. The hotels practice ‘Rod Naam Daam Hua’ on this day, which defines an important part of the Thai way of life, namely that young people always pay respect to their elders. Hotel staff visit local elderly people to pour sacred water for them in celebration of this day.
Free Child Care Center
Claire Chiang, the wife of Laguna Phuket founder Ho Kwon Ping, saw that the children of the men and women working to construct the hotels had no safe haven, so she suggested establishing a free child care centre. From the outset, the concept of corporate social responsibility has been absorbed into the character of the oasis resort, and CSR now guides Laguna Phuket’s approach to both the environment and the local community. Today a greatly-expanded free child care program caters for 190 children aged three to six, with 10 trained teachers supplementing their daily activities, and the Laguna Phuket centre is widely acknowledged as one of the best in Thailand. Children are the future, so special attention is paid to their needs. Since 1993, the Laguna Phuket Foundation for Education has awarded hundreds of scholarships to exceptional pupils from surrounding schools to allow them to overcome economic problems and fulfil their academic potential. Students from primary school to university level continue to benefit.
Phuket’s continuing popularity as a holiday destination has resulted in ongoing development, some of which has had a negative effect on the environment of this beautiful island. The creation of Laguna Phuket serves as a shining example of how tourism can have a positive impact on every aspect of surrounding life. From the first moment of vision until now, preservation of the natural environment, cultural heritage and social responsibility has been of utmost importance.
Looking to the future, the management pledges to uphold the policies that contributed to this success story, and to consider new options for combating pollution. Subsequent generations of local people will certainly benefit from opportunities created by the resort complex, while guests continue to appreciate the tranquil, green oasis of Laguna Phuket.