PM wants Tham Luang to be upgraded as national park

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha wants the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non forest park in Chiang Rai province to be upgraded as a national park so it can be developed into a tourist destination.

Mr Tanya Netithammakul, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said Wednesday that the prime minister wanted the forest park which has gained worldwide attention with the dramatic rescue operation in July to extract 12 Wild Boars and their football trapped inside the flooded Tham Luang cave to be upgraded and developed into a tourist attraction.

He said the upgrading the status of the forest park, which currently receives about 500,000 baht budget each year, would enable to department to seek more budget for the development of the national park and, at the same time, could charge entry fees from visitors and enable people in the neighbourhood to earn some income from tourism business.

However, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment General Surasak Kanchanarat earlier said that the plan to upgrade the status of Tham Luang cave needs not have to be rushed, citing the need to consult people in the local areas to make sure that they will not be affected by the upgrading plan.