Complex Issues of Visual Pollution and Billboard Ban
Back of the recent success of the 'Keep Phuket Clean' campaign that has taken to the islands beaches with a growing momentum; there remains much talk of the equally mounting problem of visual pollution. For tourists and local driving around the island it's hard to ignore billboards, road signage and the most recently revolving point of sale advertising at Kathu stoplights. For the islands visitors driving along the coastline in many cases panoramic views are blocked by these alien structures.
It's easy for most to say let's ban billboards and all visual pollution but clarity requires going more then skin deep and it's an extremely complex social and economical issue for Phuket. The fact is the advertising industry, signage providers and those renting the land for major of the larger structures are local residents simply looking to make ends meet in a challenging downturn.
Billboards are for many an important income earner, the same as sun loungers on the beach are, jet skis and tuk tuks. It would be political suicide for the Government to take an outright ban on any of these but obviously longer term you need to view a broader view that much of Phuket' ability to keen the island upscale and improve green and clean will benefit the greater good. In 2006 Sao Paulo Brazil instituted a billboard ban which remains controversial to this day.
While many would argue you protect the environment, if point of sale advertising is moved to the web, will it truly improve the carbon footprint as each computer user out there consumes electricity and there we go full circle. When local interest, business and politics collide all too often the only sign on a clear horizon is a mushroom sized cloud from some sort of explosion. We all know visual pollution remains a continued concern here but how to effectively address and look at some sort longer term solution certainly needs to come high on the provincial agenda.