How e-ticketing will protect Thailand’s marine parks

Thailand Marine Park

Stopping overcrowding and curbing corruption one ticket at a time. Source: Shutterstock.

TRAVELERS to Thailand’s National Marine Parks will soon be required to purchase their tickets beforehand as the country has announced plans to launch e-ticketing.

This is coming after the Department of National Parks (DNP) imposed a ban on single-use plastics and styrofoam at all 154 national parks in Thailand.

According to Bangkok Post, e-tickets will be rolled out first at Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park in Krabi province, Ao Phangnga National Park and Mu Koh Similan National Park in Phangnga province.

Currently, tourists visiting Thailand’s National Marine Parks pay a cash fee upon entry and are issued a paper ticket. It is a system that has been abused as previous DNP audits have found entry revenue at some popular national parks unusually low.

For example, revenue from entry tickets at Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park only amounted to THB70 million (US$2.1 million) in 2015 despite the park receiving 1.6 million visitors.

Thailand National Parks

The national park board on Phi Phi Leh Island at Krabi Province in Thailand, part of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. Source: Shutterstock.

However, upon DNP’s request to have all tourist boats to register and have all entry tickets verified, venue jumped to almost THB370 million (US$11.3 million) in 2016.

As such, DNP aims to use the e-ticketing system to prevent corruption and control and limit the number of tourists to stop overcrowding.

“The new system should bring in more revenue as the fee will be deposited directly into the department’s account,” Bangkok Post quoted DNP National Park Office director Songtham Suksawang as saying.

Thailand National Parks

Longtail boats anchored at Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh Island at Krabi Province in Thailand, part of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. Source: Shutterstock.

Where can the e-tickets be purchased?

DNP is working on setting up a committee to select counter-service agents to sell them, and the three contenders bidding for it are 7-Eleven stores, Krungthai Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank.

According to Songtham, the bid winner will be announced by October, before the tourist seasons kicks off at the national parks.

DNP is also looking to expand the system to include all other parks in the country.

In March, Thailand announced it would cap the number of foreign visitors to its marine parks at six million a year.

This is due to realizing its valuable marine resources was feeling the adverse effects of overtourism.