11 July 2024

PM’s Office Minister Puangpetch Chunla-iad is seeking a Bt28-million budget from the cabinet for the survey and design of a cable car in Phu Kradueng National Park, in the northeastern province of Loei, to promote year-round and elderly tourism.

She claimed today that the previous cabinet had approved the project proposed, by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in 2012, to turn the 1,288-metre high mountain into a year-round tourist attraction, which elderly people could visit with greater convenience.

However, the issue is not on the agenda for today’s mobile Cabinet meeting held in Nong Bua Lam Phu province. Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai told reporters that the issue requires opinions and recommendations from all concerned parties.

Puangpetch said that the budget is for a survey of the terrain, to determine whether it is possible for a cable car to be built, and for the design of the cable car project, but not for the construction, which must be approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The project must also pass an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Regarding protests against the project by environmentalists, the minister said that she has discussed the issue with the Loei provincial administration, adding that she wants the cable car to be an alternative for older people, so that they can visit the popular mountainous attraction without having to walk for 6-7 hours to reach the mountain top or be carried uphill by local porters.

Meanwhile, Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, told Thai PBS today that he has granted permission for a team of officials, from the special area administration for sustainable tourism organisation, to study the feasibility of the cable car project.

He admitted that he could not say for sure whether the project will ultimately be approved, because it depends on the collective decision of several parties concerned and the outcome of the EIA.

Samret Phusaensri, chief of the park, said that it is open to the public from October 1 until May. As many as 60,000 people visit the peak of the park each year, which is 1,288 metres above mean sea level, and visitors currently need to walk about seven kilometres uphill to reach the peak, which can take more than six hours.

A cable car for the park has been a controversial project for several decades and has been continuously opposed by environmentalists.