Mu Koh Ang Thong Park readies for rise in visitors

Province mulls limiting number of visitors per day

Moo Koh Ang Thong Marine National Park off Surat Thani province is recognised as an Asean Heritage Park. (Post Today photo)

Surat Thani province is expecting a surge of visitors to Mu Koh Ang Thong National Marine Park — now recognised as an Asean Heritage Park — and is preparing measures to limit the environmental impact from this tourism influx.

Piya Nunil, head of Mu Koh Ang Thong National Marine Park, said a raft of measures will be introduced to limit the number of tourists.

The marine park currently receives about 200,000 visitors per year, 150,000 of whom are foreigners, said Mr Piya.

The park is considering implementing two rounds of visits per day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

"As the number of visitors is expected to rise, we need to strictly control the zero-waste policy," he added.

The expected rise of visitors comes after the Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment this week honoured Mu Koh Ang Thong Marine National Park in Surat Thani province, and Hat Chao Mai National Park and Mu Koh Libong Reserve in Trang province as Asean Heritage Parks.

The announcement that these valuable marine sites had been designated Asean Heritage Parks came at the 15th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in Cambodia's Siem Reap on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Located about 20 kilometres west of Koh Samui, the Mu Koh Ang Thong National Marine Park consists of about 40 islands with a combined land area of 63,750 rai or about 102 square kilometres.

With great diversity in natural and marine resources, the island group has long been a major spawning site for marine species in the country.

The marine park also serves as a habitat for important sea animals such as bottlenose dolphins, finless porpoises, Bryde's whales and green sea turtles, he added.

Mu Koh Ang Thong was listed as a national park in 1980 as a result of its great biodiversity and due to the site being the location where several sea species come to spawn.

The park is also an important spawning site of the popular Pla Too Mae Klong Mae Klong mackerel.