Dept plans marine parks e-ticketing to curb visitors
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) says it is to introduce an e-ticketing system at marine locations to regulate visitors and prevent corruption.
"There will no longer be walk-in tourists at top marine park destinations soon. The e-tickets will serve as a department tool to control and limit the number of tourists," Songtham Suksawang, director of the DNP's National Park Office said Wednesday.
"The new system should bring in more revenue as the fee will be deposited directly into the department's account," he said.
The department is setting up a committee to select counter-service agents to sell e-tickets, Mr Songtham added.
Currently, there are three bidding contenders: 7-Eleven stores, Krungthai Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank.
Mr Songtham said the bid winner will be announced by October, before the tourist season kicks off at marine national parks in the Andaman Sea.
The department will introduce e-tickets this year with a few marine national parks and then expand the system to include all other parks.
E-tickets will be rolled out first at Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park in Krabi province, Ao Phangnga National Park and Mu Koh Similan National Park in Phangnga province.
The DNP has mulled introducing e-tickets for years to manage visitor numbers and deal with corruption linked to entry fees.
Their introduction had been proposed by the State Audit Office and the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which claimed the tickets can increase transparency in revenue collecting.
DNP audits have found entry revenue at some popular national parks was unusually low.
Revenue from entry tickets at Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park -- a popular tourist destination with 1.6 million visitors in 2015 -- only amounted to 70 million that year. Revenue jumped to almost 370 million baht in 2016 after the department required all tourist boats to register and have all entry tickets verified.
The department also intends to hold a series of open discussions where stakeholders, including business operators, will share ideas on how to improve national park management and how to make dispensing e-tickets more efficient, fair and transparent.
Mr Songtham insisted online reservations will not be dominated by tourism firms, saying the department will ensure all people have fair access to the system.