Thailand's southern province of Phuket has vowed to go Styrofoam- and plastic-free in 2019.

In November, key private and public sector stakeholders, including members of the hotel and tourism industry, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote a public awareness campaign called “No Foam, No Plastic.” 

Set to launch in time for Valentine's Day (Feb 14), 2019, the campaign will encourage visitors and locals alike to stop using environmentally damaging foam and plastic packaging. 

Then, from Oct 1, the campaing will encourage people to switch entirely to paper or eco-friendly bags and straws.

The MOU signing took place at the Phuket Sustainable Tourism Blueprint 2018 event held on Nov 9 and is in line with the government's "Thailand 4.0" sustainable tourism development goal.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says Phuket will act as a case study for other cities to follow.  

Thailand, which welcomed over 35 million visitors last year, has come under increasing strain from huge numbers of tourists, over-development in fragile ecosystems and other unsustainable practices.

In related environmental news, viral footage of reef sharks returning to the clear waters of Koh Phi Phi Leh’s iconic Maya Bay has been hailed as a "positive sign" of recovery less than six months after the closure of the tourist hot-spot made famous by the 2000 film The Beach.

"Come and count sharks!" the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department said in a Facebook post.