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Maya beach, not the secluded spot near Phi Phi that people imagine

Phi Phi Park Figures Expose Rip-Off

Friday, August 14, 2015
PHUKET: An investigation has begun into the disappearance of billions of baht, ripped off from international and domestic tourists on visits to Thailand's premier marine park at Phi Phi, near Phuket.

The money should have gone to support the protection of Thailand's beautiful natural environment but instead it appears to have gone into the pockets of outlaw pilferers, bent on making themselves rich in the easiest of ways: by simply stealing the cash.

Figures exposed on social media today by reforming activist Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat show the scale of the enormous swindle.

On Sunday, May 17, the last day of the old team at the Phi Phi national park, takings of 80,360 baht were recorded.

On Monday, May 18, first day of a reforming committee taking over, takings of 522,980 baht were recorded.

Earlier this year, Dr Thon posted photographs showing the huge crowds peppering world-renowned Maya beach, and questioning how so little money could be flowing from such large numbers of tourists.

Aerial photographs showed scores of boats in the area - enough to cause any environmentalist to wonder about the impact.

But it's the impact on the money that should be flowing into national coffers that is the first concern to be fixed.

According to Dr Thon, from May 18 to June 1 this year, the new committee managing the turnstiles at the Noppharatthara Beach Phi Phi Island National Park took in 8,069,190 baht - an average of more than 500,000 baht a day.

This is based on park fees of 400 baht per international adult visitor (200 baht for children) and 20 baht/10 baht for Thais (40 baht/20 baht on weekends and holidays.)

Serious questions should now be asked about Thailand's other popular marine parks and their management.

The just-deposed managers of the park claimed that the high season for tourism produced only three million baht a month yet in two months during the low season, the new management team has already accumulated 15 million baht.

The National Committee for Peace and Order backed the reforms at the national park and now must support a detailed investigation and charge those involved who possess unexplained wealth.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Thank you Phuketwan for this informative article. I hope it gets attention from an Anti Corruption team and also a investigation. I hope all this greed will be one day over! Most likely I'll not witness it. Keep doing the good words Phuketwan. Thailand needs papers like yours. Many others are not aware of what they cause!

Posted by phuketgreed on August 14, 2015 11:04


This has been going on for MANY years.
Billions of Baht

Posted by Tbs on August 14, 2015 11:14


This has been going on since cocky was an egg.

Posted by Arun Muruga on August 14, 2015 11:16


Talk about crowds! This was once a beautiful, idyllic, beach that is now being loved to death.

Prior to that woeful movie, 'The Beach', Maya Bay was a spot one could go to by long-tail boat from Phi Phi Don for half a day of snorkelling and barely see more than a dozen people. And that was in the high season!

Nostalgia is not what it used to be. :-)

Posted by Hugh on August 14, 2015 12:12


Go get them Dr Thon! And next please check and help protect the once beautiful Similan Islands!

Posted by Vfaye on August 14, 2015 12:27


Wow. Now with some facts behind the argument let's hope the relevant authorities act.

Posted by Duncan on August 14, 2015 12:47


Wow! I wondered about the fees from the national parks, Similans diving islands and where that money goes?
Thank you Dr Thon for answering that question.
Now this is the time for a major investigation, but please we need convictions too.
Thank you PW for exposing this.

Posted by Robin on August 14, 2015 13:17


Came this as a surpris ? for me no.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on August 14, 2015 13:19


They have simply violated cheating rule no.1:

Do not overuse!

In countries with high corruption a reasonable bookkeeping with revision and countercheck is non-existent.

At the end of the day the content of the shoebox is divided.

Posted by Georg The Viking on August 14, 2015 13:24


On Koh Hong in Krabi they sell two day tickets where the dates are not correct, they re-sell tickets without receipts and it is a common practice among guides to offer the possibility to cheat. You will get your own group in for half the price that way so of course cheating local companies are more competitive than foreign companies that want to pay full price just like my former company. I had to argue at the gate to Khao Phra Taeo Natrional Park and still he managed to rip me off giving one ticket too few. So, shortly - they steal and it is organised and continuously. Sadly foreign tourists have to fill up the gap through hiked fees to the national parks i.e. more money in the pockets of the thieves - gatekeepers etc. A big clean up in tourism businesses could be healthy as well as loosing up some regulations.

Posted by Hockey on August 14, 2015 13:51


Good the corruption is being weeded out, think you will find Phang Mga bay is the same.

But the Rangers in other national parks and protected areas do an amazing job and for very little salary this shouls also be adressed. You are never going to get serious about removing corruption with low salaries for these jobs, Singapore realised that and public sector workers are paid around the same as private sector to avoid any corruption and brain drain

Posted by Michael on August 14, 2015 14:15


Thank you Dr Thon for working on such a HUGE problem and thank you to Phuket Wan for reporting real news. On this report it is only mentioned money lost at Phi Phi island but the corruption is also HUGE in Phang Nga national park. 3 rangers without any back ground or training whatsoever counting the number of tourists daily in between Hong island and Panak island (so many boats getting to the sites at the same time and tour guides getting on the rangers dinghy to "deal" with money... something VERY wrong and obvious to the eyes of whom really want to see it. Go for it Dr Thon, Thailand, the national parks need your help to turn these scams to tourist into much nicer places to visit and some of the money should QUICKLY go to increase the safety (Emergency boats? Doctors?Safety rails?) of tourists, stop noises, littering... Also maybe time to limit the number of boats per day to each sites or numbers of tourists like neighboring countries like Angkor Wat (to come) for "quality" visits. When Similan National park closes during low season, many boat operators send their speed boats and passengers to Phi Phi island and James Bond island!!!

Posted by Phuket119 on August 14, 2015 14:42


PW reported the same matter almost exactly a year ago,but only assessment was not 500,000THB*365days=182,500,000THB "deficit" per year, but was appr.few billions baht based on number of visitors.

Corruption in Thailand in general is much higher than in China and Russia:
that amount of stolen VAT was hundred million of dollars in one go - actually almost the figure of stolen VAT in Magnitsky case in Russia - that led to abuse by authorities in a course of cover up,and widespread sanction on officials both by the US and the EU.

In Thailand,in turn,Ministry of Finance tried to escape conducting investigation by substance,both repeatedly trying to avoid transparency ("it's not your business,but our internal matter"),telling BS("all formal procedures were followed ") etc.,only now investigation is going at full steam - but the relative scale of abuse for this country even much greater than in Russia in Magnitsky case since the VAT rate is 7% - 2.5X lower,and population is also roughly 2.5X smaller, but the amount of stolen VAT is roughly the same.

Thailand corruption is ubiqitious, it is on par with such countries like Ukraine - that led in every case to a kind of revolution, but in every country in a different form,here - to a coup.
Both populus of Thailand and Ukraine have to change their mindsets, as it is in these cases a very big part of problem - allowing corruption in every day life, and thinking that they will benefit from it, it not this time, then another time - it is not the case of bad elite, it is case of popular culture - that is why generals in Bangkok are puzzled how to resolve it, as simple ways of conducting elections etc.are not working, if major of society is sick,and that is why they clearly tell that , in first place,Thais should change themselves,as all the formal documents like Constitution etc.will not work ,again, if they will not do.

Posted by Sue on August 14, 2015 15:09


No transparency.

Posted by J on August 14, 2015 15:30


Good article - bad news - corruption & theft on the worst scale.

No chance of recovering the money. It will all be spent on luxury apartments in London & elsewhere in Europe.

We decry the Asian countries for their stance on selling land & property to foreigners, but our own stupid countries permit such on a grand scale which is nothing more than money laundering.

Posted by Logic on August 14, 2015 15:54


This confirms locals knowledge and visitors suspicions. The tip of the iceberg of the diversion of National Park fees being diverted away from the National purse. Rip of Thailand could become RIP for Thailand Tourism if widespread action is not taken. Good Luck to Dr.Thon and his team. Let's hope more scambusters activists like him expose other areas of corruption together with reporting them like PW and that the government acts on them.

Posted by Alan on August 14, 2015 16:36


If these criminals had robbed an actual bank there would be a nationwide lockdown looking for them. Since it just Thailand Natural resources that have been robbed nothing is being thought about immediate action. This is such a travesty and every Thai should be more than upset.

Posted by Tom Weber on August 14, 2015 16:57


i'm sure there has been a misunderstanding...

Posted by another steve on August 14, 2015 17:13


May it`s a low season, what about the high season and income.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on August 14, 2015 17:48

gravatar is on the cutting edge of exposing nefarious farang in Thailand - who take advantage of the Thai corruption "malaise" to a T.

It all ties together - even the "Trial," as we await September with bated breath..

Posted by farang888 on August 14, 2015 22:36


Hi Sue

Interesting observations on corruption.

In the Indonesian language there was no well-established concept of corruption so they used the Latin word "corupsi."

Congratulations for finding my brand new twitter account by the way.


Posted by Ian Yarwood on August 15, 2015 02:30


Sue, her associates and his comrades keep an up to date dossier on all potential targets.

Posted by MoW on August 15, 2015 06:41



Posted by Anonymous on August 15, 2015 11:52

Editor Comment:

Sadly, anonymous claims of corruption cannot be published, no matter how true they appear.


Hi Ian,

thank for being the first today to spread the inconceivable news that KhaoSod has been pressed to pay a compensation and apologize for suggesting that a son of Koh Tao village head was involved in well publicized crime.
This is the most sad news I read today, giving that the person DNA test have been publicly announced and allegedly samples were taken, but, as RTP informed the court, they never got neither samples, nor results of tests. Moreover, the person never was an object of official scrutiny by investigators, so the quality of the well-publicized alibi has never been tested also.

I think your Twitter account posting are of rare quality, and represents essential reading on the subjects, that you're posting, in which you're apparently sincerely is interested in.

It seems that corruption in a public agencies where "state servants" are interested not in salary and other employment conditions, but in having and realizing power to extract from peasants money and other assets - and occasionally performing duties in the interests of common as much as is needed to stay in power, is routed to France of 16th century:

"The practice of the sale of public offices????????venality????????began in the sixteenth century

The state????????s solution to its credibility problem was to sell public offices to private individuals through the mechanism of the rente. Compared to an ordinary loan, the rente entitled its holder to a specific revenue stream that the officeholder controlled. Venal officeholders were put in charge of the collection of the taille (land tax) and other taxes, at least in the pays d????????????lections; since the monies passed through their hands, they had greater surety of having interest and principal repaid. Thus was created the system of ????????inside finance,???????? whereby the chief source of state finance became not private bankers but rather wealthy individuals who were already part of the state apparatus and thus bound to it by prior investments. "

(Francis Fukuyama "The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution" 23. Rente Seekers - The beginning of patrimonial absolutism)

What we heard about major enforcement agency here, in Thailand - findings discovered and published late last year - that the posts were sold by high officials,actually,that is a price on that posted persons will gain various kinds of corruptive incomes from peasants.

That style of governance of France has inflicted French revolution, in turn, corruption well spread, also into minds of peasants, resulted with the revolution of its kind - certainly not an evolution - the last coup in Thailand.

Let's hope there will be found a formula, by the generals, how to bridge the transitory period from feudalism - that is, actually, where Thailand is now, to a modern democracy, or to design a political order that they seem to eb suitable for the moment to bridge to a modern democracy at some moment of time later..I don't have practical advise on the matter, it is obviously an area without enough research, and, while the ultimate goal is clear - to transit to a modern democracy, this issue about ways and means how to do it, is left open - certainly, return to a kind of Thaksinist times,is not viable, as that is, in fact, jump to a modern democracy state, that is proved that Thailand is unable to advance there via shortcut, without proper and tailored state change management = adequate transitory period.

Posted by Sue on August 15, 2015 23:38


There are national parks in Thailand that are much better managed as non-profits and where the local communities are benefiting as well. These parks just don't seem to be here on the Andaman coast, and there are probably reasons for that... Entirely replacing the greedy management seems a good first step, giving local communities a voice in it should be the second. Maybe then there can also, finally, something being done against the (noise) pollution on Phi Phi

Posted by Lizzie on August 16, 2015 16:14

Sunday November 28, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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