Saturday, November 3, 2018

Thailand closes 2 tourist islands for rehab



Photo from bookyourdive.com
Local and foreign tourists rejoice as 2 of Thailand’s renowned beach resorts reopens to the public after undergoing major revamp for 5 months. Surin and Similan Islands were among the many Marine National Parks along the Andaman Coast favored by the many snorkelers and divers on a holiday getaway.

TEMPORARY CLOSURE

The Department of National Parks (DNP) -  Wildlife and Plant Conservation on May 2018 announced that it shall shutdown the 2 islands temporarily to undergo a massive rehabilitation brought about by the influx of tourism.


In a statement, Mu Koh Similan National Park Head Ruamsin Manajongprasert said, “The DNP is preparing to close many marine national parks along the Andaman coast. During this period nature can recover and have a break from the onslaught of tourism.”

“It is getting into the monsoon period which will have strong wind and waves. We also want to protect tourists from accidents caused by the strong waves. After the islands are closed, the national park officers will patrol the area in order to prevent any tourists entering,” he explained.
Similan Island / Photo from Scuba Diversion
“In addition, patrol boats will be used to check for illegal fishing in the national parks, especially around Koh Bon, which is a small island between Koh Similan and Koh Ta Chai,” Ruamsin added.

An earlier report by the flagship news program of People’s Television Network, PTV News said that as soon as the island reopens, Thai government will limit the daily number of tourists allowed to visit the islands. Tour operators who will not adhere to the directive will be sanctioned. Fishing activities in the area will also be strictly prohibited.

RATIONALE

As time passed by, the majestic scenery of both the islands has slowly shifted to an unwelcoming side. Dead coral reefs were found in some areas of the islands - the reason why it was even called "Cemetery of Coral Reefs.” Before the situation worsened, Thai government firmly decided to temporarily shut the island down.
Surin Islands / Photo from Khao Lak Maps
Both Surin and Similan Islands were considered as ‘National Parks’

Maya Bay, on Phi Phi Leh Island made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, “The Beach” which premiered on the year 2000 have also undergone similar approach. Recent surveys led by marine biologists found that a huge part of the coral reefs within the area went missing and sea life has virtually disappeared.

Thailand’s Marine Biologist and member of the National Strategy Committee on Environment Development said that, "It's like someone who has been working for decades and has never stopped."

"Overworked and tired, all the beauty of the beach is gone. We need a timeout for the beach," he implied.

Thai government will set a maximum daily limit of up to 2,000 tourists while boats will no longer be allowed to anchor in the island and will have to dock instead, at the opposite side of the island at floating piers, as soon as Maya Bay reopens.

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Source: PTV