Despite some pandemic-induced setbacks in Kratie province’s tourism industry, local tourism has been picking back up with the Irrawaddy dolphins serving as one of the province’s most notable tourist attractions.
Speaking during a press conference at the Office of the Council of Ministers today, provincial governor Va Thorn said the Kampi Resort has topped the list among Kratie’s 19 tourist destinations, being the popular choice for tourists looking to indulge themselves in dolphin spotting.
While the dolphin population remains low in the province, recorded at 80, Mr Thorn said the threatened species has attracted a total of 373,696 local and international tourists last year.
“The number of tourists who come to see the Irrawaddy dolphins has been increasing each year. They [Irrawaddy dolphins] have greatly boosted [Kratie’s] tourism which is the province’s priority sector,” he said, adding efforts have been consistently expended to ensure the conservation of Irrawaddy dolphins.
In 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the Irrawaddy dolphin’s status from “vulnerable” to “endangered,” citing human activities as the main reason behind the decline.
As such, the Kratie provincial hall has banned fishing in areas inhabited by the dolphins, as well as the strict confiscation of illegal fishing nets which can trap and kill the dolphins.
Provincial tourism department director Chan Sokhunthy said the Kampi Resort is the most popular destination in the province as it allows tourists to watch the dolphins from the river bank and even board a local boat to get up close with the animals.
“Boat owners bring the tourists to the middle of the river where they could engage with the dolphins and develop a deeper appreciation of their beauty,” he said, saying the dolphins have played a significant role in luring local tourists to visit the province amid the COVID-19 pandemic.