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Thailand Struggles With Overcrowding Of National Parks


Thailand officials are grappling with how to control overcrowding at their national parks, such as Huai Nam Dang national park.

Editor's note: In an effort to better understand how other countries are protecting their parklands, and to compare and contrast U.S. efforts to those from abroad, Traveler will on occasion run items from beyond U.S. borders. This story involves Thailand's struggles with overcrowding at its parks.

While national park visitation concerns in the United States frequently revolve around visitor declines, in Thailand the parks are being overrun by tourists, according to a recent story in the Bangkok Post.

Upai Wayupat, chief of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, said tourist numbers in many national parks far exceeded their carrying capacity.

For example, the Huai Nam Dang national park in Chiang Mai saw up to 8,000 visitors, comparing to its carrying capacity of no more than 1,600 a day.

As a result of these crowds, wildlife and vegetation in the country's parks are in danger. The crush of visitors is expected to get worse between December 31 and January 5, when Thais celebrate the new year.

In an effort to better manage the crowds, officials for the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department have instituted visitation limits and required those seeking lodging to reserve accommodations at least 60 days in advance of their visits.


Thailand's National Parks Department is struggling with a much greater problem - its gets too many of the "wrong type" of tourist. It's official statement actually noted this which is very unusual in Thailand. It wants to limit the "wrong type" and try and further attract "nature lovers" so it can fulfill its mandate of conservation and education.

Having a full national park is not always a good thing if the visitors are potentially harmful to what is being nurtured and/preserved.

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