Published on : Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Thailand’s Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa recently announced that the country has decided to close down its national parks for several months each year in order to reduce environmental damage at popular tourist spots. The move comes following the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed the natural habitat to recover in absence of tourists and large crowds.
He informed that in light of the pandemic the wildlife returned to the country and hence the authorities have decided to close the parks annually for two to four months at a time, starting next year to help improve the conservation of the areas. He mentioned that this would help nature to rehabilitate itself and allow park rangers to improve the parks. He shared that the park closures will be staggered across the country.
According to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in 2019 fiscal year, more than 20 million people visited Thai national parks contributed 2.2 billion baht ($70 million) in park fees. Tourism has always been a major part of Thailand’s economy, and contributed about one-fifth to gross domestic product before the pandemic disrupted international travel. In 2019, nearly 40 million international tourists arrived at the country and some of the tropical beaches, islands and other natural attractions struggled to cope with the growing number.
Thailand has more than 100 national parks, which cover the mountain regions in the north to tropical islands in the south, containing popular attractions like Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay. It has been already informed that Phi Phi Islands’ Maya Bay, the recognised tourist attraction where Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Beach was shot will remain closed until much of the area has recovered from the damage of mass tourism.