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Monday, October 22, 2018

#Thailand - Marine protections ordered for #Samui to preserve ecosystem


THE DEPARTMENT of Marine and Coastal Resources has decreed protective measures for tourist destinations Samui, Pha-ngan and Tao islands in Surat Thani province that will halt several routine practices and popular activities.

Department director Jatuporn Burutpat signed the order in mid-August but it will not come into effect for 90 days after being published in the Royal Gazette. That puts it in effect at the end of next month.

The department said certain activities taking place on and around the islands had caused serious harm to marine and coastal resources, to the point that, if they are allowed to continue, the damage to the ecosystem could be irreparable.

“The protective measures are issued to cover areas of Tao, Pha-ngan and Samui islands in order to limit or suspend some activities that have had serious impacts on the resources there,” the decree says. “This is to mitigate the impacts while preserving the natural resources there.”
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 The order aims to curtail four primary activities.

Boats will not be allowed to drop anchor on coral and must instead lash their anchors to the stationary buoys that are available.

No one will be allowed to feed marine creatures for any purpose, including tourism. 
“Sea walking” – an increasingly popular experience in which tourists don weights and air-fed helmets to walk around on the sea floor admiring the fish and coral – will be prohibited. 

Also banned is the dumping of wastewater and rubbish into the sea.

The anchoring and fish-feeding rules do not apply to authorities on duty or who are specially authorised by the department for work purposes.

The order will take effect at the end of November and remain in effect for two years.

Source - TheNation

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

#Thailand - Similan boss ignores tour operator appeals


The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation is refusing to bow to pressure from tour operators in Phang-nga for it to ease restrictions on visitors to the Similan Islands.

Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Parks Division of the department, said the decision to limit the number of daily visitors to 3,325, plus another 525 visitors for scuba diving, was intended to preserve the environment.
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 Overnight Similan stays are also banned under the current guidelines.

 He said the department does not want a repeat of the situation of previous years when the number of daily visitors spiralled to 6,000 to 7,000 on some days, well beyond the capability of the islands to cope.

“The department doesn’t want to see the Similans end up like Maya Bay in nearby Krabi province, which was recently closed indefinitely due to extensive damage caused to coral reefs and the beach from unlimited visitors,” Songtham said. 

The parks division chief said he was not worried by the protest of tour operators, who claimed that their business would be affected by the restriction because they had already accepted advance bookings from tourists to visit the Similans and that they were given little notice about the restrictions.

Songtham said: “Park officials had been discussing with the representatives of the operators throughout the past year about the overcrowding problems and about measures to limit the numbers to preserve the environment for the long-term benefit of all parties.”

Only a few tourists visited the Similans yesterday – the second day of the two-day boycott imposed by tour operators to protest against the restrictions.

Tour operators have been taking tourists to Koh Surin over the past two days.

Source - TheNation

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Monday, October 15, 2018

#Thailand - Tour operators boycott visits to Similan and Surin islands to protest new restrictions


The tour operators have had enough of the winding back of tour boat operations and are now resorting to boycotting and ‘disrupting’ the tours in order to get their protests heard.

About 50 tour operators in Phuket and Phang nga say they’re suspending boat trips to Similan-Surin islands in the Andaman sea (off the coast of Phang-Nga) today and tomorrow to protest against the decision of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation to limit the number of visitors to the islands to 3,850 a day. The number also includes 525 scuba divers.

Thai PBS reports that the limitation of visitors comes into force today after the two main islands re-opened to tourists after several months of closure during the monsoon season.
Besides the limitation of visitors, overnight stay-overs are not permitted.

Tour operators met yesterday in Ban Tap Lamu in Thai Muang district of Phang nga to discuss the new restrictions which they say they oppose.
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They say their objections are because the restrictions would affect their business and that they’ve already accepted advance bookings to tour the islands before the department issued its new restrictions.

They say they will take their tourists to other tourist attractions Monday and Tuesday this week while awaiting response from the department.

Tour operators have been notified of the reopening of the two islands for visitors and the restrictions and to get themselves prepared with their vessels being properly checked to ensure their sea worthiness and equipped with enough life vests for their passengers.

The PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Putrakul, who was in Phang nga over the weekend, received the tour operators’ complaint and promised to bring it to the attention of the department chief.

Source - Thai BPS

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

#Philippines to rein in visitors to Boracay island, strained by tourism


The Philippines will limit the number of visitors setting foot on its most treasured island resort each day when it reopens to tourists on October 26 after a six-month rehabilitation effort, an environment official said on Wednesday.


Boracay, located off the northern tip of the central island of Panay, is famed for its sugary white sands, turquoise waters, lively nightlife and abundant water sports, which attracted nearly 2 million domestic and foreign visitors last year.


But in April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the island, calling it a "cesspool", because of sewage dumped into the sea and buildings constructed too close to the shore.


About a third of the 600 to 700 resorts on Boracay, about 308 km (192 miles) from Manila, the capital, were operating without permits, authorities found.


Just 19,000 tourists will be allowed on the island on any given day, with the number of workers capped at 15,000 daily, the environment official, Sherwin Rigor, said in a television interview.
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 Only half of the island's 12,000 existing hotel rooms will be allowed to open each day, he added, to ensure the number of guests on the tiny 10-sq-km (4-sq-mile) island is below its "carrying capacity" of 55,000.


Rigor, who is an undersecretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, added that authorities would ban beachfront parties, and activities such as eating, smoking and drinking there.


The closure of Boracay, which earns the Philippines more than a billion dollars in tourism revenue every year, weighed on gross domestic product in the second quarter. Growth slowed to a near three-year low of 6 percent in April-June.

Source - TheJakartaPost

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

#Cambodia - Bayon Restoration to resume


The Japanese and Cambodian governments have allocated $1,5 million to fund phase five of the Bayon temple restoration project, a Unesco official said on Tuesday.

Unesco Culture Programme Specialist Philippe Delanghe told The Post yesterday that the project which is slated to begin this year will be completed in 2020. This is according to a mutual agreement signed by the UN agency and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

The project is backed by the Japanese and Cambodian governments, with each contributed $1 million and $500,000 respectively, he said.

Delanghe said: “The financial contribution is necessary to continue restoration of the Bayon Temple.”
The fifth phase of the project focuses on studying and restoring the central structure of the temple, as well as preserving its sculptures which reflect the people’s daily lives during the great era reigned by Jayavarman VII around the late 12th century.

Through Waseda University, Japan plays a crucial role in researching, protecting and preserving the Kingdom’s World Heritage site.
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 It has been financing restoration projects via the Japan Trust Fund for the Conservation of Culture World Heritage.

During the implementation of phase three (2005-2011) under the joint framework called Japan-Apsara Safeguarding Angkor (JASA), Japan provided financial support amounting to $3,268,286 in addition to the $500,000 contribution given by the Apsara Authority.

Unesco was responsible for the administrative arrangements for this project.

Phase four of the project, which started in 2011 and finished in 2015, was implemented with a $2.5 million contribution from the Japanese government and $500,000 from the Cambodian one.

Greater understanding

A spate of restoration activity by various stakeholders throughout the years led to the uncovering of many buried artefacts and greater understanding of the Khmer empire.
Apsara Authority director-general Sum Mab said the fund will make the process of protecting and conserving the temple easier.

“The contribution indicated a huge participation by the Japanese government in protecting and conserving [Bayon temple] which is part of the Angkor Archaeological Park – a world heritage site.”

He said restoration within the archaeological park is very important, noting that the effort would allow future generations to learn and research the traditions and culture of the ancient empire reflected through the historical structures.

Other than Japan, other countries have also participated in many of the Kingdom’s temple restoration projects.

Last year, a report saw China rolling out funds to restore the royal palace complex within the Angkor Thom archaeological site in Siem Reap.

In 2014, Korea, via The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), contributed $4 million towards a three-year restoration project of the 12th century Preah Pithu Temple located within the Angkor Wat World Heritage site.

Source - TheNation

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

It won't burn down: Architect defends vision for #Bangkok airport


Bangkok’s main airport is planning to add a $1.3 billion terminal with extensive wooden cladding and a forested landscape, spurring concern about fire risk. Its designer says there’s no need to worry.

Tropical forests inspired the blueprint for the building and the aim is to give travelers a feeling of Thailand’s uniqueness, 52-year-old architect Duangrit Bunnag said in an interview. He rejected concerns from the Engineering Institute of Thailand that the structure could be a fire hazard.

“Airports tend to have similar features -- they’re white, cold and metallic,” Duangrit said. “I wanted a design that immediately gives travelers the feeling they’ve arrived in Thailand. It will be a metal structure covered with wood. Different treatments can be applied to the timber to ensure fire resistance.”

Airports of Thailand Pcl, the biggest Asian airport operator by market capitalization, announced last month that it was awarding the design contract to a joint bid by Duangrit Bunnag Architect Ltd. and Japan’s Nikken Sekkei Ltd.
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 The state-controlled firm expects to boost annual passenger capacity by 30 million by building a second terminal at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport. Construction is due to start next year and finish by 2021.

A tourism boom is straining the country’s infrastructure, putting pressure on officials to tackle bottlenecks. Foreign arrivals could hit 40 million next year -- equivalent to more than half the population.

Duangrit’s design features sweeping arches and giant columns clad in wood. He also proposed an enclosed tropical-forest landscape spanning about 16,000 square meters between two buildings of the terminal. Passengers would be able to see but not to enter the landscape, a symbol for ecological protection.

“The difficulty in designing the terminal is how to make it memorable to travelers from around the world,” Duangrit said. “How do I make it look different to all the other airports?”

Source - TheJakartaPost 

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

#Vietnam - Da Nang gains stature as a must-go destination


Da Nang should be high on the list of places to visit in Southeast Asia, says Channel News Asia.

The Singaporean pay TV channel has included the Vietnamese city in a list of five under the radar destinations in south and southeast Asian regions.

It says that in Vietnam, the spotlight is mostly trained on the country’s two biggest metropolises - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but Da Nang, home to Asia’s most beautiful My Khe Beach and neighbor to Hoi An, the ancient town, has plenty to offer.

Intrepid travelers can climb up the famous Marble Mountains, a group of five marble and limestone mountains, to discover “hidden caves, tunnels and Buddhist shrines galore,” it recommends.

The central Vietnamese city has gained greater prominence since its Golden Bridge opened in June this year.
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 The visually stunning bridge has been featured in CNN’s best travel photographs of the year, the news channel notes.

Once a sleepy fishing town, Da Nang is now a formidable tourism destination, gaining renown for its long beaches and upscale resorts.

The city received more than five million visitors in the first seven months of this year, up 30 percent over the same period last year, according to the Da Nang tourism department.

Travel magazine Live and Invest Overseas, “the world's savviest source for top opportunities to live better, retire in style, invest for profit, do business,” voted Da Nang among world’s most livable cities earlier this year.

The site also recommends tourists to go on a safari in Colombo, Sri Lanka, swim in a volcanic lake in Indonesia’s Medan, go glamping in India’s Visakhapatnam and visit an island of silk-weavers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Source  - VN Express.net

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