Similan National Park opens, fees remain the same for Phuket tourists
PHUKET: The Similan National Park officially re-opened today with its park fees remaining unchanged as Phuket’s tourism high season approaches.
Admissions fees were expected to take a sharp jump after Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) chief Damrong Phidet, now retired, announced in September the need to increase the price of fees to raise money to carry out improvement to national park facilities.
However, newly appointed DNP chief Rerngchai Prayoonwet cancelled his predecessor’s plan, leaving park fees unchanged.
Mr Damrong had laid out a plan to increase the fees at 29 national parks, raising the price for a Thai adult from 40 to 100 baht; a Thai child from 20 to 50 baht; a foreign adult from 400 to 500 baht; and a foreign child from 200 to 300 baht.
The price hike caused some concern for tour operators, especially dive companies operating in the world-renowned Similan National Park.
One official at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said Mr Rerngchai’s decision would hurt plans to upgrade facilities at national parks, reported The Nation.
“The increase in admission fees, after all, had been applied to big national parks only,” the official said.
However, Mr Rerngchai said that maintaining the admission fees at their current rates would attract more visitors to the parks and reduce the risk of vendors in the surrounding areas from losing business.
— Isaac Stone Simonelli
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