According to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation or DNP, the business operators of tour agencies in the area has been submitting proposals for the department to lift the quota system that has been imposed for tourists who are visiting Similan Islands National Park which is located in the northern part of Phuket in PhangNga. Many divers are going there to experience Similan islands liveaboard but because of the quota only a specific number of tourists can visit every day.
According to the National Park Office’s director, Songtham Suksawang who is in charge of the national parks that are covered by the DNP, there is no truth to the allegation of the tour business operators that they were informed just now and not given a warning in advance. He further explained that the decision of the department is already final. This is their plan in order to manage to tourism in the area. He added that prolonging the inevitable will only lead to further damages. When this happens, the business operators will lose more in the process.
Criticisms are now being thrown to the department by tour operators such as van services and cruise operators who staged a protest at the Tub Lamu pier located in the district of Thai Muang. Their demand is simply for the demand to lift the order they have announced.
Last month, the DNP has already announced that the bay will be shut down indefinitely because of the negative impact brought by the overwhelming number of tourist arrivals. Just a week ago, the department announced that they will put a quota in the number of arriving visitors to only 3,850 every day which started on October 17.
This came after an academic research was conducted that the marine parks in the Thailand could only handle that amount of tourists each day. Of the 3,850, only 525 divers are going to be allowed to experience the Similan islands liveaboard while before the announcement there are about 7,000 tourists arriving every day. According to local data, 912,000 visitors came to see the islands.