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Cable car plan to get OK?

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Phu Kradueng is a scenic destination and tourists fear the cable car development would ruin the national park.

The cable car project to the mountaintop of Phu Kradueng National Park has entered its final stage. In December, all feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments, public hearing sessions and opinions from various parties were submitted to the cabinet for approval.

Phu Kradueng is a famous destination in Loei province. The cable car idea was initiated in 1982 by Phu Kradueng National Park, and Kasetsart University was assigned to conduct a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment two years later. More studies have been conducted in the past decades, with mixed opinions. While conservative groups opposed the plan with high concerns about natural deterioration, locals supported the idea.

No progress was made till 2012, when Loei revived the project and officially submitted it to the cabinet. The cabinet then assigned Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), a public organisation, to conduct studies and public hearing sessions.

Dasta suggested that, if approved, a ropeway should be built at the southeastern corner of the national park. Seven poles will support the cable, a length of 4.40km. The mountain station will be situated 600m west of Lang Pae, the point where trekkers reach the park’s plateau, which elevates a bit over 1,200m above sea level.

According to the plan, the cable car would neither ruin the scenery nor bother trekkers. It will climb up and fly over a mixed deciduous forest, dry evergreen forest, hill evergreen forest and pine forest, respectively. It requires 5,700m² for two stations and poles. The study insists that no big trees would be felled. It will be aerial ropeways with a mono cable detachable gondola to accommodate eight passengers at a time. The gondola would be able to carry 4,000 passengers per hour. It is estimated that the new mode of transport could serve 20,000 passengers per day, or 7 million passengers a year.

The project investment is estimated to be 634 million baht. Dasta sees it is worthwhile as the cable car will attract more tourists during low season and generate more income for local businesses. Rainy season is the low season for Phu Kradueng as the conventional trail is slippery and dangerous.

Easy access via cable car allows the national park to limit overnight tourists at 5,000 people a day, according to the park’s capacity. Those beyond the carrying capacity can make day trips.

The cable car will reduce trekkers, ease a garbage problem in the park and help with first-aid problems. Trekking to the plateau of Phu Kradueng requires an overnight trip up a 9km trail, which is impossible in a day.

More than 30 workshops with local people were organised, along with three public hearing sessions. More than 70% of community leaders in Loei, Phu Kradueng and porters, which make a living by carrying tourists luggage, agreed with the project. However, more than 60% of trekkers disagreed with the project, according to Dasta’s report.

Loei governor Viroj Jivarangsan hopes that the cable car would be a new magnet attracting tourists from nearby Asean countries to the province. Growing tourism would also benefit nearby attractions like Phu Rua, Chiang Khan, Dan Sai and Na Haew, as well.

In 2013, the province welcomed 1Ǒ million tourists, however only 60,000 visited Phu Kradueng, partly due to its difficult access.

A porter carries tourists’ luggage to the top of Phu Kradueng.

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