Whilst the capital has been the center of political unrest, closer to home, local business owners have been venting their fury at the imminent introduction of a park fee in the Koh Chang National Park.
As Koh Chang is a National Park, it is liable to a 200bt park fee for its entry, in exactly the same vein as other National Parks throughout the country. Visitors to Koh Samet, for example, pay as they arrive on the island.
On taking up the his National Park director’s role a month ago, Veera Khunchaiyarak first major initiative was to re-introduce this park fee, but opt to enforce it only for visiting Koh Rang and its surrounding islands. December 1st was slated as the start date.
Koh Rang is the main attraction of the marine park for divers and snorkellers alike. If you take a boat trip, you will very likely end up there at some point.
Park Fees on Koh Chang
There is a history to fees and Koh Chang, and an unsuccesful one at that, with previous plans all ending in confusion and abandonment. At one point, it was suggested that visitors should pay at the ferries, but difficulties in its enforcement, meant that plan too was ripped up .
For a good few years, the only charge imposed is that at the waterfalls of Klong Plu and Than Mayom, 200bt for adults, 100bt for kids and 30bt to 40bt for Thai Nationals. The idea for a park fee for the boats entering the Marine Park area is itself certainly not new either but up until now, it has been resisted and thought impractical to collect.
Latest Collection of Park fee fails at Koh Rang
About 200 locals demonstrated against the proposal outside the National Park Offices, insisting that there has been no consultation over the plan and how it would directly impinge on their livelihoods. Anger was also directed at the authorities for handing them the poisoned chalice of actual collection.
On December 1st, boat owners refused to do the Park’s dirty work, creating a farcical situation of rangers joining boat trips to tap up the tourists and even shuttling from boat to boat off Koh Rang.
A few meetings later and the plan has been put on ice until the middle of next year, so we will keep you posted. Seems flavour of the month at the moment, these truces, though not sure how long the other slightly more important one up in Bangkok might last!
Collection is on site by the rangers in an inflatable dinghy. This park fee is not included in our guide to the snorkeling prices.
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