Since the release of famous Hollywood movie "The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio 18 years ago, travelers from across the world have visited Thailand to explore the beautiful beach for themselves.
However, Maya Bay, on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in the Andaman Sea, was recently closed down, all thanks to over-tourism.
Unfortunately, one of Asia’s most iconic holiday destinations has been badly damaged by the huge influx of tourists that visit every year. Broken beer bottles, plastic wrappers and leftover litter made environmental degradation a common sight at Maya Beach.
Now, the government has decided to give it a break.
Environmentalists say years of increasing tourism has caused severe damage to Maya Bay and its surroundings.
On an average, the beach receives about 200 boats and 4,000 visitors everyday. Recent surveys marine biologists found not only a large part of the coral reefs around the area was gone but the sea life had also virtually disappeared.
Global warming has also played a huge part.
More than three-quarters of Thailand’s coral reefs have reportedly been damaged by the rising sea temperatures and unchecked tourism. Plastic has also washed up on the shores as tourists throw their waste into the ocean.
However, authorities are now striving to balance profit and conservation by temporarily closing the location. The attraction has being shut down for four months to give its coral reefs and sea life a chance to recover.
The decision to keep visitors away was made by Thailand’s national parks and wildlife department.
"I tried to push this campaign for many, many years, but you know in Thailand we are a tourism industry country and we need a lot of money, so before not so many people listened," said marine biologist and member of a government committee on development and the environment, Thon Thamrongnawasawat.
"It should have been done 10 years ago but at least it has been done," he added.
Thailand welcomed about 35 million tourists last year, which is a five-fold increase in little more than two decades.
Once the bay reopens, the government reportedly plans to set a limit of 2,000 tourists a day. Moreover, boats will no longer be allowed to anchor. Instead, they would have to dock on the opposite side of the island.
Banner / Thumbnail : Pixabay / remideligeon