Oil spill heads for Koh Samet

Oil spill heads for Koh Samet

Boats deploy linked buoys in a bid to contain the oil spill off Rayong on Wednesday. (Photo: Royal Thai Navy)
Boats deploy linked buoys in a bid to contain the oil spill off Rayong on Wednesday. (Photo: Royal Thai Navy)

An oil spill flowing towards Koh Samet is hitting the island's tourism as operators could face many cancellations, as happened with a previous spill at Ao Phrao in July 2013.

"We do not want a repeat of the terrible spill at Ao Phrao Bay, as locals worked for years to clean it up," said the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samet.

According to the Pollution Control Department, 180,000-200,000 litres of the 400,000-litre spill were heading to Mae Ramphueng Beach and the Khao Laem Ya–Mu Koh Samet Marine National Park. Without intervention, the oil is scheduled to hit the shore on Friday at 3-5pm.

The president said an oil spill is worse for tourism than a Covid-19 outbreak because tourists cannot swim and seafood is likely to be contaminated.

She said the government should prevent severe damage by any means necessary.

The island's tourism revenue has already been hit by massive cancellations following stricter entry requirements, she said. Tourists visiting Koh Samet must show a negative ATK test result within 72 hours before their travel date after the island reported nearly 100 Covid-19 cases after the New Year holiday.

Tourism operators are telling tourists to take the test in Rayong, which costs around 150 baht, because the test is more expensive on the island.

The island welcomes 300-500 tourists per day during weekdays, down from 2,000-3,000 a day prior to the Omicron wave.

There are 1,000-2,000 tourists a day during the weekends, still below the 3,000-4,000 tourists per day last month and 10,000 tourists a day in 2019.

Vocabulary

  • cancellation: a decision to stop something that has been arranged from taking place - การยกเลิก
  • contaminated: made dirty, polluted or poisonous by the addition of a chemical, waste or infection - ปนเปื้อน
  • intervention: becoming involved in a situation in order to try to stop or change it - การแทรกแซง
  • locals: people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน
  • necessary (adj.): essential, needful, something that you must do or have - จำเป็น, ซึ่งเลี่ยงไม่ได้, ซึ่งเป็นที่ต้องการ, สำคัญ
  • prior to: before - ก่อนหน้า
  • spill: the amount of liquid that comes or falls out of a container - สิ่งที่หกล้น
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