Foreign tourist under investigation for free climbing in southern Thailand

Photo via ThaiRath

A foreign tourist is under investigation for free climbing up a limestone cliff on an island off the coast of Krabi province in southern Thailand within national park boundaries.

The Chief of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, Teekhawut Sriburin, is investigating a foreign tourist and a Thai boat operator after photos of a foreigner climbing up a limestone cliff on an island in the Railay Bay were posted in the social media group ‘Krabi / Ao Nang locals.’

Climbing up a cliff with no harness or any safety equipment at all is dangerous and could be life-threatening if the tourist fell, said the chief.

“Not only is it dangerous but climbing without permission is also against national park regulations.

“Climbing cliffs in the national park is prohibited because cliffs are nesting sites for wild animals and birds, said the chief. It is currently nesting season for birds.”

Another photo pictured a longtail boat anchored nearby, carrying three more foreign tourists.

Teekhawat said he will be investigating the boat operator for enabling the foreigner to go free climbing up a cliff – behaviour which is clearly against National Park rules.

If boat operators see tourists violating National Park rules they must warn them to stop, said the chief. Tourists may not be aware of the rules but boat operators are.

National Park officials cannot be everywhere at once so they rely on the cooperation of boat operators to keep foreign tourists in check.

As for punishment, the chief said he will follow procedures according to regulations outlined by the Department of National Parks. He didn’t say what kind of punishment the free climber and boat operator would face.

If a tourist goes free climbing and chooses not to use safety equipment – national park or not – and gets injured or dies, some may consider it “at their own risk.”

However, foreigners getting into trouble is damaging to the kingdom’s image which could negatively impact the tourism industry.

Regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of tourists and also to conserve the environment.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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