Similan Islands gets green light to limit daily visitor numbers

Speed boats and tourists on an island in Similan, Phang Nga Province, Thailand

Thailand’s Similan Islands National Park, a popular diving and snorkelling spot in the Andaman Sea, has been given the green light by the Supreme Administrative Court to limit the number of visitors to protect the archipelago from further degradation, reported the Bangkok Post.

The Supreme Administrative Court’s decision last week overturned an earlier ruling from the Phuket Administrative Court, which said a plan to limit numbers by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) was illegal.

Speed boats and tourists in Similan, Phang Nga Province, Thailand

Last October the department announced plans to limit daily visits to the park to 3,325 tourists and 525 divers, and that visitors could not stay overnight with permission.

However, the DNP’s plans was met with resistance from tour operators, who had petitioned the Phuket Provincial Court to annul the visitor limitations as it would severely affect their businesses.

This was followed by the Phuket Provincial Court’s issuance of an injunction against visitor limitations but the department appealed against the ruling.

Following the closure of Maya Bay, curbing visitor numbers to the Similan Islands is the DNP’s efforts to control tourism and limit environmental damage to Thailand’s popular destinations.

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