Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has said no more than 525 divers can visit the Similans on any one day. The decision was based on academic research that looked into the capacity of Thailand’s marine parks. Non-diving tourist numbers are also limited – to 3325 a day. Many tour operators opposed the move but the more responsible dive operators welcomed it.
“We fully support this conservation effort. It will mainly effect day trippers and fewer people will help the environment and make the Similan Islands more beautiful for everyone” commented dive operator Thailand Liveaboards.
The measures are aimed to help the Similan islands recover and to promote eco-tourism.
As well as curtailing visitor numbers, the department has introduced a no single-use plastic rule and prohibited overnight stays on any of the islands.
The new rules mean that divers should book early. To get the most from a Similans trip most divers take a liveaboard. The diving season runs from mid-October to mid-May with the best time being between December and April.