Thailand’s Department of National Parks (DNP) have announced plans to launch an e-ticket system for entry to National Marine Parks. Thai authorities say this will enable the number of visitors to be regulated and stop overcrowding. The new system should also prevent corruption. At the moment, tourists visiting National Marine Parks in Thailand pay a cash fee upon entry and are issued a paper ticket. That system is open to abuse and previous audits carried out by the DNP revealed discrepancies in the accounting figures at a number of popular tourist locations.
When and where will the changes take place?
The DNP say the new e-ticket system will be trialled at a small number of locations by the end of this year with a view to extending the scheme to all National Marine Parks if it is successful. Initially, the e-ticket system will be launched in three locations on Thailand’s Andaman Coast:
- Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park, Krabi
- Ao Phang Nga National Park, Phang Nga
- Mu Koh Similan National Park, Phang Nga
How will e-tickets be issued?
At the time of writing, nothing has been finalised. The contract for issuing e-tickets is out to tender with three bidders in the running: 7-Eleven, Krungthai Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank. It’s expected that the winner of the bid will be announced by the end of October 2018.
How can tourists buy e-tickets for National Marine Parks?
At this stage there are not enough details available to say how it will work for foreign tourists. However, what does appear to be clear is that the e-ticket system will, at some stage in the future, stop walk-up visitors because tourists will need to purchase tickets in advance. The Bangkok Post quoted a senior DNP official saying, “There will no longer be walk-in tourists at top marine park destinations soon. The e-tickets will serve as a department tool to control and limit the number of tourists.”
Although the DNP say that everybody will have fair access to the e-ticketing system, it’s possible that e-tickets may be arranged by tour operators with the price of the entry ticket then being included as part of any tour package.