Phuket tour companies wary of national park admission fee hike
PHUKET: Many Phuket tour and dive companies are waiting to see how the final confirmation of the significant hike in national park fees will affect their businesses.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) announced that the entrance cost at many popular national parks in Thailand would see their first jump in a decade starting January 1.
“Although I understand that the insufficient budget for park management and maintenance has forced the DNP to increase the entrance fees, I am worried that it will affect our services. We will have to charge our customers more for the diving packages for some national marine parks,” one dive operator who asked not to be named explained to the Phuket Gazette today.
The current proposed increase in fees for Thai adults is 40 baht to 100 baht, while the cost for Thai children will jump from 20 to 50 baht. Adult foreigners will see a 20 per cent increase as the park fees go from 400 to 500 baht, while the fee for foreign children will rise from 200 to 300 baht, DNP officer Apinya Mingkwan confirmed to the Gazette.
However, the exact numbers are still tentative, explained Ms Apinya.
In addition to proposing the increases in park fees the DNP, as of September 1, has cancelled the one-day national park ticket, which allowed tourists to visit multiple national parks with a single ticket, Ms Apinya added.
Some tour operators, including Juthamart Supharak from Phuket Tour Holiday Company, do not anticipate the increase in the fees to having a significant affect.
“We don’t want to charge our customers more, but if the increase really happens, then we will just need to explain the situation to them,” Ms Juthamart said. “I don’t think we will have a problem with the fee hike because our tour packages are not that expensive, so even if we add another 100 baht it is still acceptable.
However, she added, “I would be very glad for this money to go towards improving the parks.”
Director of the National Parks Office Vithya Hongvienchan also does not expect the increase in the fees to affect the number of tourists visiting Thailand’s national parks.
“Thailand’s national park fees are very low compared to those in other countries, such as European countries, the US or even Cambodia. I believe that we will still see an increase in the number of tourists visiting our parks,” Mr Vithya told the Gazette.
“Generally, the DNP distributes about 10 million baht per park annually to pay park rangers and for park maintenance. However, costs of maintenance has been increasing every year, especially due to water-treatment systems in the parks,” he said.
“The income generated from the increased admission fees will be used to maintain and develop the park,” he added.
The increase in fees is planned to affect eight parks in the North, four in the Northeast, three in the East, four in the West and 10 in the South of Thailand.
The Southern parks to be affected are: Khao Sok and Mu Ko Ang Thong in Surat Thani; Tarnboke Koranee, Koh Lanta and Nopparattara Beach in Krabi; the Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Ao Phang Nga in Phang Nga; Hat Chao Mai in Trang; and Tarutao in Satun.
— Orawin Narabal
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