Plastic garbage and the death of the coral reefs show the downside of mass tourism in Thailand, which hosted 36 million visitors in 2018. The documentary looks at the effects on tourist resorts above and below water.
Ten years ago there were 20 million fewer tourists. Today’s mass tourism has both social and ecological consequences. Most of the Thailand’s popular tourist resorts discharge untreated sewage into the sea, and plastic waste ends up in the water. This is killing off the fragile coral reefs along the coast. The countless hotels and restaurants mainly serve fresh fish, so fishing boats are using giant trawl nets, which are also destroying the coral. The internationally renowned marine ecologist Thon Thamrongnawasawa from the University of Bangkok says 77 percent of Thailand’s coral reefs have been severely damaged. Meanwhile, the locals in popular tourist resorts hardly benefit from the huge numbers of holidaymakers at all. They work for the minimum wage and are often pushed out by guest workers from neighboring Myanmar, who are willing to work for even less money. Small local restaurants lose out when the big tour operators take their guests on all-inclusive excursions. The filmmakers first visited Thailand a few years ago, shooting enchanting footage of the still intact underwater world in many places. Now they are back there again to look at the consequences of unrestricted tourism – both above and below the waterline.