Thailand’s Maya Bay will remain closed indefinitely

Maya Bay Thailand

Will its marine life ever be able to fully recover from tourist damage? Source: Shutterstock.

ON JUNE 1, 2018, Thailand’s stunningly beautiful beach Maya Bay was officially closed to tourists ahead of the high season due to critical damage to its corals.

Located 30 minutes away from the popular Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, Maya Bay was made popular by The Beach, a British-American adventure drama film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Guillaume Canet.

At its height, The Beach increased tourism to Thailand by 22 percent – and this is on top of the inbound tourism numbers that Thailand is already getting. But there were dire consequences.

Maya Bay Thailand

Source: Shutterstock.

According to Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Fisheries deputy dean Thon Thamrongnawasawat, 77 percent of the total 238.4 square kilometers of coral reefs in all of Thailand’s waters have been devastated – a 30 percent increase from a decade ago.

Polluted water from beachfront hotels, plastic rubbish dumped in the sea and physical damage from boat anchors are the cause of the coral damage.

Up to 6,000 visitors had gone to the beach every day, which is 50 meters in length and 15 meters in width, by speedboat from the nearby resort islands of Koh Phi Phi and Phuket and Krabi.

As such, the authorities saw a need to turn the hordes of tourists away to allow marine life to recover. Maya Bay was to be closed for four months. Unfortunately, that was not enough.

Maya Bay Thailand

Source: Shutterstock.

Through the time that the globally renowned beach was closed, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) ran a campaign to restore Maya Bay to its previous state, planting more than 1,000 corals in 25 rai of the bay.

But it still needs more time to repair and as such, the country’s Office of National Parks has decided to close it indefinitely,

“Four months’ closure was not enough,” Reuters quoted Office of National Parks director Songtham Sukswang as saying.

“We need at least a year or even up to two years or maybe more for the environment to recover – this includes the coral reefs, mangrove, and the beach.”

Meanwhile, tour firms are not happy with the decision, claiming that it would certainly affect tourism on the island and its surroundings, such as Koh Phi Phi and Krabi.

Koh Phi Phi Tourism Business Club Wattrapol Chanthararo said he will be calling a meeting of club members to discuss ways around the problems caused by the closure, Bangkok Post reported.