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Phang Nga

Overnight stays cancelled for Similan Islands

The Thaiger

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Overnight stays cancelled for Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Environmentalists and marine biologists have scored another win for the local eco-system with the closure of the Similan Islands to overnight stays.

Concern over degradation of coral reefs and the marine ecology of the Similan Islands, caused by polluted water discharged into the sea, is prompting the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation to prohibit overnight accommodation on the islands as of today. And that will be indefinitely.

The order was signed by Mr Tunya Netithammakul, the department head and became effective today.

However, tourists on diving trip will be allowed to stay overnight on the islands provided that they have prior permission from the Similan Islands national park. (No description as to what the requirements necessary to obtain permission for an overnight stay.)

The islands are still open to tourists for daytime visits. The number of tourists visiting the islands is limited at 3,850 a day to prevent overcrowding.


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Phang Nga

Tour operators boycott visits to Similan and Surin islands to protest new restrictions

The Thaiger

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Tour operators boycott visits to Similan and Surin islands to protest new restrictions | The Thaiger

The tour operators have had enough of the winding back of tour boat operations and are now resorting to boycotting and ‘disrupting’ the tours in order to get their protests heard.

About 50 tour operators in Phuket and Phang nga say they’re suspending boat trips to Similan-Surin islands in the Andaman sea (off the coast of Phang-Nga) today and tomorrow to protest against the decision of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation to limit the number of visitors to the islands to 3,850 a day. The number also includes 525 scuba divers.

Thai PBS reports that the limitation of visitors comes into force today after the two main islands re-opened to tourists after several months of closure during the monsoon season.

Besides the limitation of visitors, overnight stay-overs are not permitted.

Tour operators met yesterday in Ban Tap Lamu in Thai Muang district of Phang nga to discuss the new restrictions which they say they oppose.

They say their objections are because the restrictions would affect their business and that they’ve already accepted advance bookings to tour the islands before the department issued its new restrictions.

They say they will take their tourists to other tourist attractions Monday and Tuesday this week while awaiting response from the department.

Tour operators have been notified of the reopening of the two islands for visitors and the restrictions and to get themselves prepared with their vessels being properly checked to ensure their sea worthiness and equipped with enough life vests for their passengers.

The PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Putrakul, who was in Phang nga over the weekend, received the tour operators’ complaint and promised to bring it to the attention of the department chief.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Phang Nga

Similans re-open with tight new restrictions

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Similans re-open with tight new restrictions | The Thaiger

by Pratch Rujivanarom

The number of visitors to the Similan Islands will be capped at 3,850 people per day as part of new tourism management reforms to preserve the pristine natural beauty of the islands and promote sustainable eco-tourism.

When Mu Koh Similan National Park reopens today, tourists will discover some changes on the islands; they will find more tranquil beaches but also tighter enforcement of rules by national park officials to make sure that both tourists and the picturesque natural beauty around them will be safe.

Mu Koh Similan National Park chief Ruamsin Manajongprasert says the new tourism management plan has been revised to deal with two major challenges that the national park had been facing – excessive tourism and ecosystem degradation.

“Since Tachai Island is closed to all visitors due to environmental damage caused by tourism activities, the Similan Islands are the destination where the mass groups of tourists are diverted to,” Ruamsin said.

“Therefore, the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department [DNP] decided that it was now time to come out with tougher tourism management rules in order to ensure that tourism activities at Mu Koh Similan National Park will be sustainable and cause less harm to the fragile ecosystems of the islands.”

He said starting from this tourism season, every tourist boat will have to notify the national park and get permission first before entering the islands. No more than 3,325 visitors will be allowed per day for one-day trips and 525 visitors per day will be allowed on scuba-diving tours at Similan Islands.

There will be no overnight stays at the islands.

“I am confident that our national park officers are now ready to perform their duties to look after the tourists’ safety and preserve the islands’ rich ecosystems, which will ensure that our next generations will have a chance to appreciate the natural beauties of our national parks,” Ruamsin said.

Similans re-open with tight new restrictions | News by The Thaiger

Prof Dachanee Emphandhu, a lecturer at Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Forestry and a researcher on tourism management and carrying capacity of Mu Koh Similan National Park, said if the measures were successful, the tourism management reform at Similan Islands would become an inspiration for other marine national parks to emulate.

“This is not the first time that the DNP is trying to limit the number of tourists and enforcing tighter rules to preserve natural resources and the ecosystems of the national parks. But this time it is different, as the officers of the DNP and the Mu Koh Similan National Park are very determined about tourism management reform, because the existence of our unique and priceless marine ecosystems are at stake,” Dachanee said.

However, tourism business operators arn’t happy with the reforms at Similan Islands. They regard the national park’s new tourism management rules as too radical and also too suddenly enforced, hence most of the operators are unable to adapt to such extreme changes and will unavoidably suffer severe damage to their business.

One of the tour operators in Mu Ko Similan National Park, Torphong Wongsathienchai, revealed that due to the significant adverse impacts to tourism business from the new tourism management rules at Similan Islands, he was forced to lay off 120 employees in order to keep his company operational.

“I have no choice but to ask many of my staff members to resign and put their families in financial uncertainty,” Torphong said.

“We totally support sustainable tourism management at Similan Islands, because the picturesque nature of the islands is a goose with golden eggs for us, but we want the change and enforcement to be gradual so that the tour operators can adapt.”

Similans re-open with tight new restrictions | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Phang Nga

No happy endings for two massage parlours in Phang Nga

The Thaiger

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No happy endings for two massage parlours in Phang Nga | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Sanook

Phang Nga district officials and the military have raided two establishments in the Lamken sub-district over the weekend after complaints of noise and the the businesses selling ‘sex’.

The first business was called ‘Nang Fa’ (Angel) and was found to have seven staff including one Laotian national whose work permit had expired. The owner ‘Thayarat’ was busted for flouting laws and running a sex business.

Nearby ‘Check-In’ also received a visit where there were five staff including another illegal Laotian. Similar charges were laid against that owner, ‘Kannikorn’.

Everyone was taken to the local police station and charged. Sanook reports that the action is in line with the military government’s orders.

(The Thaiger thinks that massage parlours, called ‘Angel’ and ‘Check In’, are probably not your ‘traditional’ Thai massage venues.)

No happy endings for two massage parlours in Phang Nga | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Sanook

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