Tour buses enlisted in smog fight

Tour buses enlisted in smog fight

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has a short-term plan to seek cooperation from 10,000 tour buses in Bangkok to tackle the smog problen, including the use of alternative routes.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is cooperating with tour operators to strictly prohibit polluting buses from running within Bangkok and suggesting they check the quality of the fleet regularly.

Bus drivers also must stop the engine while waiting for tourists in carparks.

These measures are to take effect for a few months.

"Tour buses that emit smog have to be banned, and the owners have to regularly check the engine before use," Mr Phiphat said.

Moreover, tour operators are encouraged to ease congestion in major cities and disperse the flow of tourists to other destinations, including the outskirts of Bangkok and southern and northeastern destinations.

"Instead of visiting the capital and popular provinces in the northern part of Thailand, both of which currently suffer from toxic air quality, some tour operators have already switched the programme to less severe areas, which is the best solution we can do now," Mr Phiphat said.

He acknowledged that the situation could hurt tourism and may require further discussions with the prime minister about potential solutions.

In the meantime, he delivered an unofficial statement to agencies under the Tourism and Sports Ministry to let officers work from home. Department heads can consider and grant permission on a case-by-case basis.

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