Thailand, known for its white beaches, and a wide variety of things to do and see, from the nightlife of Sukhumvit to the sunny Similan Island diving, which solidified its position as a tourist destination. And, according to a marine and conservation expert, the country and its marine parks are attracting too many tourists.
Which is why the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Fishery at Kasetsart University and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources’ Official Advisor, Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, says that Thailand will now be capping the amount of tourists that visit their marine national parks, to 6 million annually, as an effort to allow nature to heal.The reveal was made by Thon via his Facebook page on the 26th of April, saying that the decision was part of Thailand’s “national reform strategy”, which they made for their marine parks.
Dr. Thorn is known for his criticism of the tourism industry for its detrimental effects to the environments around national marine parks they’re usually in the vicinity of, pointing out that damage to Thailand’s coral reefs sit at 77%. He says that the country should reduce this number to around 50% within five years. He welcomed the marine park department’s decisions, saying that limiting the number of tourists that can head for their national parks, believing that, even though industries like Similan Island diving may have issue with it, it’ll let the conservationists in Thailand campaign harder for the sake of the environment.
Phi Phi Island, located to the east of Phket, is a priority target, with an aim of cutting down daily footfall in half from 6,000 to 3,000. Most of the visitors to the island arrive via boats, meaning that hundreds of anchors drop into the coral reefs every day.
Dr. Thon has estimated that about 2.5 million tourists visit Phi Phi annually, which can be a problem as people damage the environment; the island is a part of the local national park, hence why the popular Maya Bay will be closed to boats from June to October to let the coral reefs heal. He adds that there are 17 site in 17 marine parks that need urgent attention in order to stop damage to coral and marine life.
Notably, the Similan Islands are closed six months annually to allow for recovery, and results have been promising.