Tourists flock to Tham Luang cave on opening day
20 visitors at a time allowed into first chamber at world-famous site
Tourists thronged Tham Luang to enter the cave complex in Chiang Rai as it opened for visitors to go inside on the first time on Friday.
Officials of Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non National Park said at least 2,000 visitors were at the park to be among the first to see part of the cave, where the 12 Wild Boars footballers and their coach were trapped during heavy flooding in July last year.
The park in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai opened the first chamber, the cave entrance and the Nang Non spirit house for visitors from 8.30am to 4.30pm. The park allows only 20 people at a time to see the three spots and they need a permit from the park.
Tham Luang was upgraded from a forest park to a national park last month after it became the focus of an international rescue effort to retrieve the young players and their trainer. The successful mission was one of the biggest international news stories of last year.
Jongklai Worapongsathork, the deputy director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, led a ceremony to officially allow tourists inside the cave with religious rites and a ceremony to pay respects at the Nang Non spirit house.
About 1.5 million people visited Tham Luang in the last fiscal year, although they were not allowed to go inside the cave as the area was still being restored as part of an upgrade.