Maya Bay, a famous seaside landscape in Thailand is due to remain closed for at least two more years to help nature to fully recover.
Maya Bay gained fame two decades ago following the release of the movie The Beach. The movie starred Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio and turned instantly the bay located on Koh Phi Phi Island into a hit for travellers. Last year, as the Bay was facing an alarming reduction in its corals and increasing pollution and up to 5,000 daily visitors, Thai authorities finally decided to close Maya Bay to tourists.
Authorities had initially said that the beach would only be closed for four months. But since then, the reopening of the beach has been regularly pushed back. And now Thon Thamrongnawasawat, adviser to the Department of National Parks, announced that the ban on visitors will be extended until mid-2021 to allow a full recovery of the Bay’s corals and wildlife. “The resolution of the Department of Parks on May 8 is to extend the closure of Maya Bay for another two years to allow its ecology to fully recover,” said Mr. Thamrongnawasawat.
After it is reopened, measures such as limiting the number of daily visitors and banning boats from parking within the bay’s waters will be enforced.
A majority of the visitors were ferried there from Krabi city by local longtail boatmen or tour operators. The closure of the Bay for another two years is now generating anger. “Maya Bay is the heart of our tourism,” declared Wattana Rerngsamut, chairman of Krabi Provincial Tourism Association which represents some 200 tourism and hotel operators to local newspapers.
Calling the two-year extension “unfair”, Wattana said the Department of National Parks should conduct public hearings so they can find “common ground . . . so that local people can earn a living’. According to him, the closure of the Bay already translated into a plunge of 50% in Chinese tourist arrivals in the province.