The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has decided to tighten up the control of tourism-related activities on Ko Samui, Ko Tao and Ko Pha-ngan in Surat Thani in a belated effort to conserve and rehabilitate the natural resources and environment of the three popular tourist destinations and the sea.
A memorandum of understanding was signed on Thursday (March 15) between the Natural Resources and Environment and all parties concerned which include representatives of tourism-related business operators such as the tourism promotion associations, fishermen associations and local administration organizations.
The MoU signing at Ko Samui municipal was witnessed by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Gen Surasak Karnjanarat and Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat among others.
Under the MoU, operators of tourism-related businesses and fishermen are required to obey the restrictions to ensure that their activities must not threaten the environment and natural resources of the three popular islands.
Among the new restrictions to be imposed include no feeding of fish in the sea and ban on the sale of food for the purpose of fish feeding in the sea.
Besides, authorities would tighten up enforcement of existing measures to protect marine ecology and coral reefs from boat anchoring, construction project, and discarding of garbage or leftover food from tourists boats.
Minister Surasak said that the problems in the three islands were huge as they have been left unattended to for a long time.
He said the problem of waste management and poor town planning were ruining beautiful nature of the three islands.
Garbage has been identified as a major problem for the three islands.
Surat Thani governor Witchavuth Chinto said there are about 42,000 tonnes of garbage accumulated on Ko Tao and about 250,000 tonnes of garbage on Ko Samui and the garbage has been piling up each day.
He disclosed that about two million tourists visited Surat Thani, mainly the three islands every year and the number is increasing each year.