A massive clean up operation is under way in Koh Samet in Rayong province. It involves business operations worth over 100 million baht a month.
The head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife & Plant Conservation (DNP) is taking legal action against a number of influential groups in order to clean up illegal profiteering.
In addition,the Director General of Khao Laem Ya-Moo Koh Samet National Park, along with a further 79 officials, has already been transferred following an investigation into corrupt practices.
The lucrative businesses were being controlled by mafia who were also linked to a number of police officers. The businesses involved were motorcycle, bicycle, jet-ski, speed boat and banana boat rentals, along with beach massage services.
The list is joined by taxis, hawkers, body painters and even Cambodian fire performers. It is estimated that around two thirds of the money taken from tourists found its way into the hands of corrupt officials.
Since the crackdown , revenue for the National Park has quadrupled from the same period last year. It is believed that high ranking police and military officers,as well as politicians, have been involved in the scams.
All jet-ski, banana and speed boat operations have been permanently closed down in the interests of tourists’ safety. Five of the seven piers in the area have been closed down as they are mafia run.
All businesses are now regulated so as to avoid a repetition of the scandal.
(Thanks to Bangkok Post)