Publications

SEI Publication

Author(s): Kannapa Pongponrat Emma Calgaro

Year: 2009

In:

Type: Project report

Language:
English

Centre:
Asia

Link to SEI author(s):

Vulnerability assessment of the tsunami-affected areas of Thailand: a case study of the Phi Phi Islands, Krabi Province

At 7.58 am (local time) on the 26 December 2004, the subduction of the Indo-Australian tectonic late beneath the overriding Burma plate generated a massive megathrust earthquake with a magnitude of 9.3 on the Richter Scale some 255 km South-South East of Banda Aceh in Northern Sumatra (McKee, 2005). The vertical uplifting of the seafloor along the 1200 kilometre rupture  displaced an estimated 30 km³ of water, triggering one of the most destructive tsunamis in recorded history (British Geological Survey, 2005).

The multiple tsunami waves radiating outward from the rupture line reached up to 30 metres in height, devastating vast numbers of coastal communities in 11 countries bordering the Indian Ocean  and killing more than 270 000 people (Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, 2005; United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, 2006).

Thailand’s burgeoning tourism industry, accounting for 6.4 per cent of the country’s GDP (THB 579 billion or USD 17.3 billion1) and 10.6 per cent of total employment, sustained the greatest loss  from the disaster (World Tourism Organisation, 2005; World Travel and Tourism Council, 2008), with the tsunami causing extensive damage to six provinces located along a 400 km stretch  of the Andaman Coast in southern Thailand, namely Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun. Those living along the Andaman coast are highly dependent—both directly and  indirectly—on the tourism sector (WTO, 2005); in 2004, these provinces alone generated 17 per cent of Thailand’s total tourism revenue (UN, 2005).

The tsunami not only claimed the lives of thousands of tourists and industry workers, but also left the livelihoods of the affected destination communities in complete disarray. A total of 8212  people were killed in Thailand, including 2448 foreigners from 37 countries (UN, 2005). Those that survived the event faced further challenges. More than 97 per cent of Thailand’s damage was  incurred by private properties, with much of this damage and loss falling on the tourism industry (Scheper and Patel, 2006; Tsunami Evaluation 1 Exchange rate used throughout the report: 1 USD  = 39.22 THB Coalition, 2005). The tsunami destroyed 25 per cent of the total room capacity resulting in an estimated tourism infrastructural loss of USD 340.9 million (UN, 2005). Tourist  arrivals in the affected provinces decreased by 53 per cent in the 6-month period following the disaster event causing revenue losses of USD 1.4 billion at a time when funds were needed the most  for rebuilding and staff remunerations (UN, 2005). Approximately 120 000 tourism-related jobs were lost and incomes significantly reduced (UN, 2005; Young, 2005).

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