National parks will close annually to protect environment

Thailand will prioritize the environment over tourism and close many of its national parks for a few months each year to allow nature to repair and recover from damage caused by too many tourists and human activities.

“This is so that nature can rehabilitate itself, and the park rangers can improve the parks,” said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Warawut Silpa-archa.

Warawut adopted his position after witnessing how the environment in many national parks rebounded during the coronavirus pandemic response.

The Minister said that he wants national parks closed for two to four months every year, beginning next year. Thailand has over 100 national parks. More than 20 million people visited them in 2019, paying over $60 million in entrance fees.

Thailand is an acknowledged tourism success story, hosted over 40 million tourists in 2019. However, the soaring growth in tourist arrivals has triggered a debate whether the effect on the environment outweigh the economic and livelihood benefits of mass tourism.

Warawut has selectively shut down parks before. In late 2018, the Minister ordered the famous Maya Bay in Phi Phi Island national park closed indefinitely due to its environmental degradation. The Minister said the closure will remain in effect until the coral is fully recovered.

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