Thailand’s Department of National Parks has made an announcement that the tourism and Similan Island liveaboard sector would usually take notice, as it recently revealed that they’ll be shutting down the popular diving destination will be closing for five months, starting at May 16, 2018.
The island will be open for tourists to visit until the announced closing date, but people with any appointments and reservations for hotels and Similan Island liveaboard will have to get a refund. Tourism at the island remains strong, and is expected to do so until the island closes.
RuamsinManajongprasert, Head of Mu Ko Similan National Park says that the DNP is working on closing quite a few marine national parks along the coastline of the Andaman sea, which he says is to allow the natural environment to recover and heal, by taking a break from the onslaught of tourism and extensive human activity.
He adds that Thailand’s monsoon season is also coming up soon, which will bring in strong wind, waves, and tumultuous weather, which is why they’ve decided on that particular date, to also protect tourists from injuries and accidents caused by the monsoon weather.
After the assigned date of closing the islands will be patrolled by the DNP in order to make sure that tourists do not trespassing on the national park areas. DNP officers will roam the island’s coasts and the surrounding area, while patrol boats will make their rounds in order to ensure that no boats head for the area and/or fish illegally. Manajongprasert says that the DNP sees an upsurge in illegal fishing activity during the monsoon seasons in the area.
The Mu Ko Similan National Park already has scheduled closing, as the officials routinely close the park on an annual basis, right around the time monsoon season kicks in. This particular instance is notable, however, as it’s longer than usual, and it also follows the recent news of other popular tourist destinations closing around Asia. In addition, Thailand has also put a hard cap on how many tourists their marine national parks throughout the country to an annual of 6 million. These moves were made by the Thai government in order to reduce the damage to the coral reefs in the country, which have been noted at sitting around 77%.