Parks coupon scheme sees few takers
BANGKOK: Only 150 tour and dive operators in the whole of Thailand have submitted applications to join a concessionary coupon scheme recently announced by the Marine National Parks Department (MNPD) of the Royal Forestry Department (RFD). The coupon scheme allows operators to take foreigners into parks at the old rate of 20 baht or 40 baht, rather than the new rate of 200 baht. The deadline for applications to join the scheme was last Thursday. As part of their applications, operators had to specify how many coupons they would need for the year up to September 30, 2001. They will not be allowed to buy more coupons later on if business is better than anticipated. If, on the other hand, they buy fewer coupons than stated on the application, they risk being blacklisted by the RFD, and may be refused entry to the parks in the 2001-2002 high season. The coupon system devised by the MNPD is massively complex, entailing no fewer than three visits to its offices by any operator who wishes to buy coupons. Asked who had joined the scheme, Suwan Prasertphon, senior officer at the MNPD, told the Gazette that the department had yet to sort out who had applied, and from where.
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