'Maldives of Chanthaburi' island resort in Thailand shut down over sea encroachment

'Maldives of Chanthaburi' island resort in Thailand shut down over sea encroachment
PHOTO: www.mr-khaitour.com

Officials on Wednesday morning raided and shut down a popular island resort that was advertised as "the Maldives of Chanthaburi", saying it encroached on the sea.

Pongpat Wongtrakul, the province's deputy governor, led marines of the Chanthaburi and Trat Protection Taskforce, marine park officials and harbour officials in the 9am raid on the Koh Chik Resort in Moo 1, Klung district. They found 10 guests waiting for a boat to take them back to the mainland, but neither resort owner Narong Hongbin nor any staff were on the premises.

The resort became popular after advertising its bungalows built over the sea on Facebook, adopting the name "the Maldives of Chanthaburi".

Of the resort's 15 bungalows, nine of them sit on platforms directly above the sea surface, akin to most resorts in Maldives.

Environmentalists complained to the Marine and Coastal Resources Department, and on Monday Governor Somchai Leewongsakorn inspected the island. Pongpat said the resort owner had not sought permission to build structures in the sea and must demolish the bungalows within seven days or else the authorities would do so.

He said forestry officials would determine whether the part of the resort on land encroached on protected forest. Guest Thirawat Kornthiangtham said he'd checked in on Tuesday and was shocked by the raid. He said he'd heard the resort was fully booked two months in advance.

Neighbour Srirat Lohasart, 57, said closing the resort would hurt local people who sold it food and otherwise did business on the island.

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