By The Nation
As Thais flocks to national parks to celebrate New Year’s, the ban on alcohol has been partially lifted, allowing visitors to imbibe only at park lodges. However, booze is still prohibited in the campgrounds, the park chief said yesterday.
Manopat Huamuangkaew, acting director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (DNP), said the alcohol ban in campgrounds is to prevent loud parties and fighting.
The ban was announced by Suwit Khunkitti, the former Natural Resource and Environment minister, and followed the fatal stabbing of an engineering student during a party at Khao Yai National Park in December 2010. Violators face up to one month in jail as well as a Bt1,000 fine.
‘No alcoholic beverages’
Somphong Jirararuensak, director of Protected Area Regional Office 11, said the parks under his supervision, including Thung Salaeng Luang, Phu Thab Berk and Khao Kho, would not be selling alcoholic beverages. However, visitors may bring drinks to their accommodation at park lodges and must not disturb other visitors.
Manopet urged tourists to call the DNP’s 1362 hotline to check on accommodations. Lodges and camping areas are fully booked for the New Year at Khao Yai, Phu Ruea, Phu Kradueng and Doi Inthanon.
He also announced a ban on big motorcycles around Khao Yai, citing problems with noise, speeding and wildlife being run over.
Park visitors are urged not to use cooking stoves for heat inside their tents, which kill many campers each year, Manopat said.
Parks will also establish service centres in risky areas to provide assistance and security to tourists and their valuable belongings. The service centres can also contact police and rescue workers for help in emergency cases.