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

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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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