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New parks chief cuts entry fees

Admission fees to 29 national parks have been significantly reduced thanks to an order signed by new Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) chief Rerngchai Prayoonvej.

Rerngchai signed documents yesterday cancelling rules set by his predecessor, Damrong Phidej.

On September 14, then-DNP chief Damrong ordered that the admission fees to many national parks be increased in order to boost income so the DNP could upgrade the parks in line with national standards.

As per Damrong, admission fees to 29 national parks were set at Bt100 per Thai adult, Bt50 per Thai child, Bt500 per foreign adult and Bt300 per foreign child. However, Rerngchai cancelled the order and reverted to the old rate: Bt40 per Thai adult, Bt20 per Thai child, Bt400 per foreign adult and Bt200 per foreign child.

The 29 national parks include Mu Koh Angthong in Surat Thani, Mu Koh Similan in Phang Nga, Suthep-Pui in Chiang Mai, Phu Hin Rong Kla in Phitsanulok, Pha Taem in Ubon Ratchathani and Kaeng Krachan in Phetchaburi.

Damrong had to go into mandatory retirement at the end of September.

Meanwhile, an official at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said Rerngchai's decision would hurt plans to upgrade facilities at national parks.

"The increase in admission fees, after all, had been applied to big national parks only," the official said.

However, Rerngchai said the reduced admission fees would attract more visitors to the parks and reduce the risk of vendors in the area losing business.

Meanwhile, an informed source said DNP was planning to collect fees via Counter Services from January 1 in order to prevent corruption on the part of ticket collectors stationed at the entrance of national parks.

In a related development, Tak Governor Suriya Prasartbundit said the road to the Ti Lor Su Waterfall was now open after a five-month closure for maintenance.

"Please use pick-up trucks instead of for four-wheeled drive vehicles," he said.


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