Thailand to close southern island of Koh Tachai indefinitely due to excessive tourism

A view of the Similan Islands, located off the coast of southern Thailand.
A view of the Similan Islands, located off the coast of southern Thailand.PHOTO: HENDRIC TAY

BANGKOK (Xinhua)- The Thai government has announced it will close the southern Similan islands to tourists for five months, and one of them, Koh Tachai, will stay out-of-bounds after the annual closure.

Thanya Netithammakun, director general of Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said on Sunday (May 15) that the islands, a group of famous scenic islands in Andaman Sea, will be closed from May 15 to Oct 15 in order to allow its natural resources to recover.

Koh Tachai, said Thanya, will remain closed afterwards as a result of massive destruction caused by visitors.

Almost 1,000 visitors descend on the island daily despite its capacity to cater to just 70, posing a serious threat to the environment and natural treasures.

"We've informed tour operators of the indefinite closure of Koh Tachai Island three months in advance. But only to find there are still 14 tour agencies keep selling the tour package of Koh Tachai Island when I gave a lecture in Tourism Authority of Thailand here today," said the official.

Any tour operator violating the rules will face legal charges and lose their license.

Thanya warned visitors not to be misled by tour operators who promise to arrange a trip the island during the closure.