Protestors demand park fee review
PHUKET: Two hundred protestors descended on a high-level government tourism workshop this morning to demand a review of the entrance fees for Phang Nga Bay National Park. The protesters included members of the Phuket Eco-Tourism Association (PETA) and Phang Nga residents whose livelihood depends on tourists visiting the park. The protestors’ demand was aimed at Plodprasop Suraswadi, the Director-General of the Royal Forestry Department (RFD), who is one of nearly 90 chiefs of government departments attending the workshop. Deputy Prime Minister Pongpol Adireksarn was also at the workshop as part of his current inspection tour of Phuket. Chaiya Racuepul, a member of PETA and the owner of Island Queen Canoe Co, told the Gazette, “We will meet with Director-General Plodprasop next Tuesday in Bangkok to discuss the entrance fees. We’d like him to understand our predicament and to consider more reasonable fees. “As we have repeatedly said, the high fees cause problems not only for tour operators, but also for the local people who suffer from a drop in the number of tourists,” he said. A year ago, the RFD introduced new entry fees for foreigners, setting the rate at 200 baht per adult and 100 baht per child (compared with 20 baht and 10 baht for Thais). A parliamentary committee recently recommended that a concessionary scheme for tour and dive operators, introduced a year ago, be extended while the fee structure is reexamined. PETA and other organizations have complained that the Phang Nga Bay National Park is the only one in the country that has not followed this recommendation.
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