Phang-nga tour operators boycott visits to Similan-Surin islands to protest against new restrictions

About 50 tour operators in the southern province of Phang-nga have agreed to suspend boat trips to Similan-Surin islands in the Andaman sea for Monday and Tuesday to protest against the decision of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation to limit the number of visitors to 3,850 a day, including 525 scuba divers.

The limitation of visitors will come into force on when the two islands reopen to tourists after several months of closure during the monsoon season.

Besides the limitation of visitors, overnight stay on the islands is also not permitted.

Tour operators met on Sunday at the multi-purpose hall of Ban Tap Lamu in Thai Muang district of Phang-nga to discuss the new restrictions which they opposed.

They said that the restrictions would affect their business because they had accepted advance bookings to tour the islands before the department issued its new restrictions.

They said they would take their tourists to other tourist attractions on Monday and Tuesday while awaiting response from the department.

Tour operators have been notified of the reopening of the two islands for visitors and the restrictions and to get themselves prepared with their vessels being properly checked to ensure their sea worthiness and equipped with enough life vests for their passengers.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Putrakul who was in Phang-nga received the tour operators’ complaint and promised to bring it to the attention of the department chief.

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