Phu Thap Boek tourist site under lockdown

Phu Thap Boek tourist site under lockdown

Hmong residents fear visitors could bring Covid to popular mountain getaway in Phetchabun

Phu Thap Boek in Lom Kao district of Phetchabun is a popular tourist attraction but community leaders say residents’ health and safety outweighs any economic benefits for now. (Photo: Sunthorn Kongwarakom)
Phu Thap Boek in Lom Kao district of Phetchabun is a popular tourist attraction but community leaders say residents’ health and safety outweighs any economic benefits for now. (Photo: Sunthorn Kongwarakom)

PHETCHABUN: Community leaders have resolved to continue imposing a lockdown on Phu Thap Boek, a popular tourist attraction in Lom Kao district, as Hmong ethnic residents are gripped by fear that outsiders could bring Covid-19 with them.

The leaders of three villages in tambons Wang Ban and Ban Noen met on Friday night to review the Covid restrictions on the villages, shops and resorts on the mountain after the original lockdown ended on July 7.

They resolved to maintain the lockdown indefinitely until the coronavirus situation in the country improved, said Wanchai Chabarom, head of Moo 16, one of the three villages involved. They will meet again on Friday to evaluate the situation.

Coronavirus infections continue to rise throughout the country, he said, noting that most of the holidaymakers who visit Phu Thap Boek usually come from Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

“Hmong ethnic residents on Phu Thap Boek fear Covid-19 might spread here,” said Mr Wanchai. “Now, the three villages on Phu Thap Boek are relatively safe as not a single infection has been found.

“We have sought cooperation from local residents to refrain from travelling. Resorts have been asked not to take tourists even if they are fully vaccinated. If tourists want to stay at Phu Thap Boek, they must agree to a 14-day quarantine as even vaccinated tourists could cause transmission to our communities.”

The popularity of Phu Thap Boek with tourists has always posed challenges, most of them related to overdevelopment and environmental degradation.

Five years ago, the government ordered the demolition of 64 illegally built resorts and laid charges against 100 operators. Most of the structures had been built on land classified as forest reserve and intended for the use of the area’s Hmong inhabitants. However, a lot of the land had ended up in the hands of influential people and developers.

Provincial officials in Phetchabun are now lobbying the government to reclassify the area as state land that can be managed by the Treasury Department and leased for commercial development under better controls.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (6)

Lockdown spreads

The government has extended lockdown measures for two more weeks from Tuesday, with 16 more provinces added to the dark red zone.

17:45

Couple caught with 16kg crystal meth

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT: A couple were caught by border patrol police (BPP) in possession of 16 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, in this southern province on Sunday.

16:58

Boxer Chatchai-decha falters in Olympics quarter-final

Thai boxer Chatchai-decha lost 3-2 to Cuba's Lazaro Alvarezoses in a quarter-final bout at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, capping a disappointing day for Thailand.

16:41