Thailand has made the decision to ban travelers from using sunscreen when visiting its famous national parks. A shock move that could see the Land Of Smiles turn into the Land of Sunburn, sunscreen is usually considered an essential accessory for travelers visiting the country due to its high temperatures and beach-based activities that helped put it on the map.
Known the world over for its stunning beaches, secluded islands and sprawling rainforests – each of which are features of its national park network – the move has been made with protecting Thailand’s marine ecosystems in mind. Here’s a closer look at the decision, the impact it’s expected to have and how travelers can still visit the country during the pandemic.
Sunscreen Ban – What Travelers Should Know
Last night, it was revealed that a proposal banning the use of certain sunscreens at the national parks of Thailand had been announced in the Royal Gazette, a process that results in a proposal becoming law. However, rather than being an outright ban on the use of all types of sunscreen at the national parks, the law will target specific types of sunscreen that contain certain chemicals that have been deemed to be harmful to coral.
A vital part of the sea’s ecosystem, coral can be damaged by prolonged exposure to certain chemicals. The chemicals butylparaben, methylbenzyl, octinoxate, and oxybenzone have all been linked to damaging coral reefs in Thailand. These chemicals are routinely found in many off the shelf brands of sunscreen that are available to buy in the country, and it is sunscreen products that contain these chemicals that have been banned in the new law. The ban is hoped to slow down the damage caused to the coral, which can take years to reverse.
Each of Thailand’s wonderful beaches and islands are part of its national park system, so the ban is wide-ranging and will be hard to avoid for travelers. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not a ban on all sunscreen – there are several different types of sunscreen available to purchase in the country and at home that do not contain these chemicals and that allow travelers to enjoy a day at the beach whilst protecting both their skin and the coral reefs.
The ban on sunscreen is not the first time Thailand has taken dramatic steps in order to protect its wonderful nature. Thailand routinely manages the closure of its national parks in order to prevent damage to local nature, famously closing Maya Bay – famous for being featured in The Beach – in order to prevent coral bleaching caused by boats bringing thousands of tourists there each day.
Visiting Thailand – Information For Travelers
Despite the situation in Thailand taking a turn for the worse, Thailand is still an attractive proposition for many travelers, and it is still possible to visit – though it will involve jumping through some hoops. Vaccinated travelers can enter through the country’s sandbox schemes in either Phuket or Koh Samui, which allow travelers to enter without having to stay in a quarantine hotel – though their movement will be restricted for up to two weeks.
Travelers can also enter the country via Bangkok, but doing so would require a mandatory 14-night stay in a quarantine facility and lots of paperwork, whilst the city is also experiencing a form of lockdown at present. For more information on this process, please see here.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories