OVER the past week tourist and boat operators staged a rally asking the authorities to reconsider a hike in the entrance fee to the marine national park at Phi Phi islands effective since last year as it has led to the number of tourists visiting these islands dropping and this prompted a team of Thai News Agency reporters to go there to check out the situation.
Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park’s key attractions are four islands, Poda, Mawr, Tup and Gai, and they draw tourists from across the world with the atmosphere being really lively during high season.
Every day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. there are tail boats bringing boats full of tourists to Poda Island and the total is not less than a thousand with 70% being foreigners from both Asia and Europe and the rest Thai. However foreigners have to pay a 400 baht entrance fee while Thais only pay 40 baht.
The traditional fishing boat operators said the fee levied on foreigners was increased from 200 baht to 400 baht last year which led to a 30% drop in the number of tourists who take a boat from Ao Nang here. Boat trips have dropped to only one a day from two to three previously.
Prasarn Samarn, who operates a tail boat, agrees with Ekwith Phiyayothamnothai, adviser of Krabi’s tourism business and hotel associations, that the national marine park should introduce online ticket vending service to create transparency in its effort to generate more income.
Moreover if the authorities cannot reduce the fee to the previous level of 200 baht they should improve and develop various services to make it worthwhile paying more. These include improving the restrooms, pier and mooring buoys with the latter now not enough because the number of boats have increased without any control.
Top and first inset: Tourists relax and enjoy themselves at Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park’s Poda Isalnd. Photos: Thai News Agency
Second inset: Stunning islands at Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. Photo: Thai News Agency
Below: Boats moored at one of the Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park islands. Photo: Thai News Agency