The Tourism Administration of Thailand (TAT) has provided a safety update on the inner tubes being used on the Pai River and their minimal impact on the environment as international visitors have been swarming Pai district in Mae Hong Son province for adventurous outdoor pursuits.
At the end of last week, a video showing more than a hundred foreign visitors tubing along the Pai River quickly began to trend on TikTok and other social media platforms.
Director of TAT’s Mae Hong Son office, Phanuwat Khatnak, has explained that safety laws for this activity include basis requirements for authorised operators, such as capping the number of participants to 150 on every rental round.
According to the TAT, the safety laws also order one staff member to be on duty for every 12 participants participating, with life jackets being given to all riders, Mr. Phanuwat revealed.
Alcoholic beverages and sound amplifiers are forbidden, in the hope of reducing noise that could disturb nearby residents, he added.
Mr. Phanuwat also added that the operators of the tubes must also collect any rubbish generated by participants to protect the environment.
He explained that in November of last year, officials from TAT’s Mae Hong Son office, police officers representing Mae Hong Son, and private tour operators met to develop these regulations.
Mr. Phanuwat emphasised that the province would forbid operators from offering these type of activities in the future if the rules were not followed.
Although this activity had been going on for a number of years, it hadn’t really taken off with international visitors until last year, when Thailand’s borders were once again opened, the TAT director claimed.
He also revealed the province has five or six businesses renting out the floating tubes. Per person, the packages range in price from 200 through to 450 baht.
Most of the participants are foreigners who want to relax and take in the nature, especially visitors from Europe, Mr. Phanuwat stated.
November to May is the available period for visitors to go tubing, when the water is at a low, safe level – roughly 50 centimetres, or waist level.
As the water level might rise to 2-3 metres during the wet season, tubing is not permitted to take place.
TAT numbers show that Mae Hong Son received more than 190,000 visitors in the past month, 20% of which were international visitors.
According to Mr. Phanuwat, the province is anticipating 1.6 million tourists this year, with international visitors accounting for 30% of all visitors by 2023.
Long-term digital nomads are now attracted to the Mae Hong Son area, he went on to reveal.
The province welcomed 1.5 million visitors in total last year, with domestic travellers accounting for 80% of the total, according to the agency.
TAT is showcasing Mae Hong Son province through local village excursions, wellness retreats, and road vacations along the 4,088-curve “dragon path” on the route from Chiang Mai.
The Mae Hong Son Tourist Business Association’s Phanudate Chaisagoon revealed large bike tour groups from Malaysia and Singapore travelled that route the previous year and acquired a certificate from the association.
Coming as part of a marketing drive for the cool season, every visitor who enters the province by roadway receives the certificate.