Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has announced that several islands and National Marine Parks in the Andaman Sea have been closed for the duration of the rainy season, from mid-May to mid-October 2016. This will allow the natural environment and wildlife to recover from the impact of tourism. This is a standard procedure in nearly all of Thailand’s National Marine Parks during the annual monsoon period. During this time, all tourist activities are required to cease and only park officials can visit the restricted areas and islands. The list of islands and marine areas that have been closed include:
1: Tarutao Marine National Park, off Satun province, has closed several islands and diving sites to visitors for five months, from 16 May – 14 October, 2016. Among the islands closed are Adang, Rawi, and Hin Ngam. Several diving sites around the islands are also closed, and all marine tourism activities are prohibited during this period. However, Lipe Island remains open and will still welcome visitors during this period.
2: Mu Ko Surin National Park, off Phang Nga province, has been closed as usual from 16th May – 14th October, 2016. 3: Hat Nopparat Thara – Mo Ko Phi Phi National Park in Krabi province will see some closures. It was recently announced that Yung Island in the Phi Phi archipelago is closed until further notice. The reefs surrounding the island are rich with antler corals and action is needed to protect them from bleaching as a result of sea warming. This means that activities; such as, snorkeling, scuba diving and anchoring are no longer allowed at this island. The national authorities are also considering closing Maya Bay off Phi Phi Island during the monsoon season to allow for the rehabilitation of coral reefs in the area.
However, the proposal is still being considered and an official announcement has not yet been made. 4: Ta Chai Island, a part of the Mu Ko Similan National Park off Phang Nga province has been closed to allow the marine and island ecosystems to recover. Most of these islands will re-open to welcome tourists again around mid-October 2016. For more information, please contact: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. Tel. +66 (0) 2561 – 0777, +66 (0) 2579 – 6666 Website: www.dnp.go.th