Thailand will shut Maya Bay, which famously featured in The Beach, a movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio, for four months from June.
Maya Bay has become the main tourist attraction of Phi Phi since The Beach was filmed in 1999. It was popular before the film but people around the world who haven’t even heard of Phi Phi have certainly heard of Maya Bay. The bad news; as it’s so beautiful and so well-known many boats are required to ferry all the visitors in and out. On any given day at any time there may be 30 + speedboats and longtail boats on the beach, with large ferry boats carrying hundreds of snorkelers and sightseers moored in deeper water. The decision to keep visitors away was made by Thailand’s national parks and wildlife department, according to reports. “Islands have very fragile eco-systems that simply cannot handle so many people, pollution from boats and beachfront hotels,” said Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine expert in Bangkok. “Coral reefs have been degraded by warmer seas and overcrowding. Sometimes, a complete closure is the only way for nature to heal,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. More than three-quarters of Thailand’s coral reefs have been damaged by rising sea temperatures and unchecked tourism, said Thon, who last week recommended limiting visitors to its 22 marine parks to six million a year to enable their recovery. Currently, they number about 5.5 million, he said. Thailand closed dozens of dive sites to tourists in 2011, after unusually warm seas caused severe damage to coral reefs in the Andaman Sea, one of the world’s top diving regions. It also shut some islands in 2016. The country’s sandy beaches helped draw record numbers of tourists last year, with revenues contributing about 12 per cent of the economy. The government expects 38 million visitors this year. Southeast Asia is expected to bear the brunt of rising damage to coral reefs, depriving fishermen of incomes and leaving nations exposed to incoming storms and damage from surging seas, recent research showed. Source: Reuters