The Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation on Tuesday raised concerns about potential overcrowding in Phu Kradueng national park in Loei following an attempt to revive a cable car project there.
The cable car system has been a controversial project for several decades and has been continuously opposed by environmentalists.
Ornyupa Sangkamarn, secretary-general of the foundation, said while the foundation is confident that advanced construction engineering can mitigate the impact on the environment and wildlife, its concern now lies with the potential for overcrowding.
She demanded to know how authorities will manage tourism to ensure such activities will not disrupt the natural habitat of wildlife and the delicate ecosystem there.
Similar to other parks, Phu Kradueng faces issues related to over-tourism, such as accumulation and disposal of garbage during long holidays, she added.
Ms Ornyupa was also sceptical that approval for the cable car project would lead to the implementation of other initiatives aimed at drawing tourists.
"The attractions in Phu Kradueng are spread out, and it's not easy to move from one point to another. How can we be sure there won't be any additional projects after the cable car?" she asked.
She also questioned if Phu Kradueng, which is currently accessible to tourists for eight months a year, would open year-round to justify the investment in the project.
She said the foundation would closely monitor the cable car project, especially the environment impact assessment study, adding that the process of conducting an EIA study in several projects failed to accurately reflect the actual conditions of the area.
The Phu Kradueng cable car project is back in the spotlight after the mobile cabinet meeting on Monday agreed in principle with a project to develop a design for the cable car to make travelling more convenient for tourists of all age groups and boost the province's tourism industry.
Estimated to cost 800 million baht, the project is expected to increase the number of tourists to 10,000-20,000 per day.
According to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), entrance fees worth 21,109,995 baht were collected from visitors to Phu Kradueng in fiscal 2022. The park's capacity is currently limited to 2,000 visitors per day.
Recently, the DNP gave a green light to the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) to survey the park for a feasibility study.
PM's Office Minister Puangpet Chunlaiad said on Tuesday the cable car project was proposed to the cabinet by Loei province, and the cabinet approved the scheme in principle.
She also said that funding of 28 million baht was sought for the design study for use in the upcoming EIA study, noting that the former was in response to local residents' demands that the project must boost tourism income.
Ms Puangpet said the design study would take approximately three months.