Lonely Planet Writer

Thailand’s rescue cave is already set to become a tourist destination

The world rejoiced at the heroic rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand in July. Now government officials are already turning the site into a tourism destination and an exhibition on the rescue is going on tour throughout the country.

A landscape of Doi Nang Non mountain range where the Tham Luang Nang Non cave is. Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images

In a news conference after the rescue, plans were announced to build an on-site museum that would detail how the operation was carried out with officials predicting it would become a “become another major attraction for Thailand.” Last week, the country’s prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, said the cave was “likely to become famous nationally and worldwide” and that safety measures would be put in place to ensure that tourists were more aware of the risks, including lighting and signs.

The boys are safely recuperating in hospital. Image by Thai government

In the interim period before the site is open, an interactive exhibition on the rescue is on display in Bangkok. ‘Tham Luang Incredible Mission: The Global Agenda’ will be at Siam Paragon mall until 9 September when it will then begin to tour the country. It includes a replica of the cave, equipment that was used in the rescue and a sculpture of the late Saman Gunan, a retired Thai Navy Seal that died in the rescue operation.

Now that the search and rescue efforts are over, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation will firstly begin work to repair the damage to Tham Luang cave that happened during the operation, including the holes drilled into the wall. The surrounding landscape will also need to be rehabilitated and the whole area will be turned into a national park.

Shrines appeared in Tham Luang cave area while the rescue operation was ongoing. Photo by Ye Aung Thu via Getty

As for the cave itself, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation will firstly begin work to repair the damage to Tham Luang cave that happened during the operation, including the holes drilled into the wall. The surrounding landscape will also need to be rehabilitated and the whole area will be turned into a national park.

For now the cave will remain completely closed to the public. The forward-planning of the tourism authorities may seem surprising to some but Thailand’s economy is very heavily reliant on the industry. Tourism makes nearly 18% of the GDP, almost double the average percentage.

The inside of the limestone cave. Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images

Tourism chiefs aren’t the only ones eyeing up this incredible story. Two separate production companies have announced plans to turn the story into a film. Pure Flix Entertainment, which focuses on ‘faith-based stories’, has already interviewed rescue workers while another, Ivanhoe Pictures, has been approached by the Thai government.

This article was originally published on 13 July and was updated on 28 August to include information on the new exhibition.