04 Oct 2018
Thailand: Maya Bay, made famous in 'The Beach', shut indefinitely
The glittering Thai bay immortalized in the movie 'The Beach' will be closed indefinitely to allow it to recover from the impact of hordes of tourists, an official said yesterday, as a temporary ban on visitors expired.
Maya Bay, ringed by cliffs on Ko Phi Phi Leh island, was made famous when it featured in the 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Initially, beach was shut for 4 months following erosion, pollution
The beach was initially shut for four months in June due to beach erosion and pollution as the white-sand paradise sagged under pressure from thousands of day-trippers arriving by boat.
But a survey of the problem during the temporary ban made clear that the short-term fix was not going to work and that the damage was worse than originally thought.
'Ecological system seriously destroyed, impossible to recover in allotted time'
"We've evaluated each month and found out that ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily," Songtam Suksawang, Director of the National Parks office, said.
"It's very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well the plants which cover it," he said, adding it was "impossible" for recovery to occur in the allotted time.
Philippines President had announced closure of Boracay beach resort
Besides beach erosion, heavy traffic around azure waters can also damage sensitive coral reefs, already vulnerable to rising sea temperatures.
Countries across the region from the Philippines to Indonesia are waking up to the problem of beach tourism overload and plastic waste that can come with it.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced a six-month closure of Boracay beach resort, calling the destination a "cesspool".
Tourism restrictions wouldn't be lifted until ecosystem recovers fully
Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation announced the indefinite closure in a royal gazette published on October 1. It said that the restrictions on tourism would not be lifted until the ecosystem "fully recovers to a normal situation".