National parks nationwide in Thailand are facing an economic downturn and have lost about 900 million baht so far this year as foreign tourists are still, for the most part, not allowed to enter and travel in the country during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak due to border closures.
Jongklai Worapongsathorn, Deputy Director-General of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, revealed yesterday, November 9, that the number of tourists visiting national parks nationwide had increased every year, from 13 million people in 2015 to 20.8 million people in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak occurred in China.
But the number had significantly plummeted to 8.5 million from October 2019 to February 2020 when the virus became a global pandemic and many countries had called a coronavirus lock-down and closed their borders.
National parks announced the temporary closure to all tourism on March 25, 2020, and had just reopened again on July 1, 2020. Although Thai tourists have started to return to travel, the overall number is still decreasing as there are no foreign tourists who are the major source of income for the National parks, according to Jongklai.
“We had lost nearly 900 million baht in revenue, and almost 7 million tourists since the income of the national park fundamentally come from the entrance fee of foreign tourists, causing the national park revenue to decrease respectively.” said Jongklai.
The deputy director-general stressed that more domestic tourists will begin traveling again as Thailand has officially entered the winter season which is the season of tourism, especially in the North. Mountain national parks such as Khao Yai National Park, Phu Chi Fa National Park, and Huai Nam Dang National Park are expected to stimulate the country’s tourism to a certain extent at the moment.
Meanwhile, the sea attractions in the South, especially the Andaman sea, remain in critical shape as there are no foreign tourists and these parks depend primarily on foreigners. There are some Thai tourists who are interested to go to the beach in the winter but the number remains very low when compared to 2018.
Jongklai further said that officials from Thai National Parks nationwide have now been instructed to improve and develop facilities in national parks, such as lodges and toilets, to welcome tourists during the high season and when the pandemic ends.
Several types of technology have also been introduced to improve the national parks’ functionality. All tourists must register in the application “QueQ” before visiting to estimate and limit the number of tourists to an appropriate number in order for the officials to accommodate visitors.
A new payment method has also been added to the new national park regime. A payment booth called “Kiosk” has been installed in major national parks across the country to facilitate the visitors and to reduce the burden of the national park staff.
“A reservation must be made through the QueQ application and walk-in visitors are not allowed to go through and will have to register in the application. It is for the benefit of themselves, of our officers, and of the country in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as well. We believe that we will provide more facilities to both domestic and foreign tourists in the near future to accommodate them as much as possible,” Jongklai concluded.
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