Phu Thap Boek tourist site under lockdown
Hmong residents fear visitors could bring Covid to popular mountain getaway in Phetchabun
published : 10 Jul 2021 at 16:12
writer: Suntorn 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.