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Similan To Ban Overnight Stays Starting October

Tourists and their liveaboard in Thailand can no longer stay the night in Similan Island starting in October of 2018, as new regulations are put in place by the local government to limit the impact made by travellers to the tourism destination, marked as a national park.

The island will only be available for day trips starting by October, with the government putting in a new policy in order to make it easier for them to maintain the island’s natural resources, according to Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine ecologist, Deputy Dean of Kasetsart’s University’s Faculty of Fisheries and the Chairman of the committee the Thai government set up in order to draft a new national master plan for the care and maintenance of the country’s marine resources.

Dr. Thon says that the Moo Koh Similan National Park sees an overwhelming volume of travellers, and these new regulations, starting with the day-trip only option is the first, concrete step for dealing with the issue. Tourists, he say, can still trek, swim, dive, and travel in their liveaboard in Thailand but when the day ends, they have to leave.

The ban will start in effect by October 2018, when the marine park officially opens its doors to tourists, following its closure early in May. The island is the only island, out of nine in the national park, that has bungalows and camping space for visitors. The overnight stay facilities on the island were operated by the state government.

The announcement was made by the National Park Office of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation¬† on the 25th of May. With regards to the ban, the department has already started work dismantling the bungalows and camping facilities on the island, and Director SongtamSuksawanq says that they’re almost done getting rid of them all.

He says that, while environmental concerns were the primary concern, there have also been inquiries on the cost-effectiveness of maintaining these facilities. He says that the island is an ill-fit for overnight stays given the limited space and lack of fresh water, compared to the larger islands in the country.

In response, Director Suksawanq says that they are currently working on an alternative policy for the island.

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