By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THE SUNDAY NATION
Nearly a million tourists visited national parks across the country during five days of the New Year holidays, causing concerns over possible environmental impacts.
But DNP director-general Thanya Netithammakun insisted that the department successfully dealt with the large number of tourists and was able to contain the effects of tourism on the pristine ecosystem.
Thanya said he would like to thank all visitors to national parks over the holidays for their cooperation with park officers to keep the areas clean and minimise the effects on nature. He said “up to 99 per cent” of tourists complied with the rules.
“Even though we did not greatly advertise ‘Garbage Return Home’ – our flagship campaign to mitigate the garbage problem in national parks – people still very actively cooperated with our officers in reducing the amount of trash in the parks,” he said.
No embarrassing photos
He said that increased tourist activity in national parks during the New Year generated around 500 tonnes of garbage, but the tourists took back up to 300 tonnes of their own waste, which significantly reduced the burden on the DNP.
“From this success, it can be seen that there were no pictures of garbage littering the national parks as in previous years,” Thanya added.
According to the National Park Office, there were 995,271 visitors to national parks from December 30 to January 3, which was higher than in previous years. Eight of the 10 most popular parks were in the mountains, which have cool and pleasant weather at this time of year.
The top three most visited national parks were: Khao Yai (96,592 visitors), Doi Inthanon (55,599) and Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi (41,111).
Khao Yai National Park chief Kanchit Srinoppawan said thanks to the Garbage Return Home project, tourists took away much of their rubbish. The rest was collected and properly buried in a landfill area outside of the park.
“As people stayed in the camping grounds within the national park, their activities had a very low impact on the wildlife. Most tourists did not enter the preserved area for animals. We only found that some monkeys came to the camping ground to steal food from tourists,” he said.