Nature and Biodiversity

Thailand is closing its iconic bay from 'The Beach' indefinitely to repair destruction by tourists

Tourists pass their time as they visit Maya bay at Krabi province, Thailand May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RC1CD91E4D30

Around 5,000 tourists visit the bay daily. Image: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Tom Murray
Digital Fellow, Business Insider
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Maya Bay — the iconic bay in "The Beach," a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio — is closing its doors to tourists indefinitely, Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced on Tuesday.

The DNP said the bay needs more time to recover after overcrowding of tourists damaged the beach and its marine ecosystem.

Since the release of "The Beach" in 2000, visitors have flocked from around the world to what is undoubtedly one of the world's most stunning beaches — but the environment has felt the impact.

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According to The Guardian, DNP Director Songtam Suksawang said: "We have evaluated each month and found out that the ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily."

"It's very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well the plants which cover it."

The announcement comes after the beach was set to reopen on September 30.

"We won't close it to tourism forever but have to do something to save our sea, and we have to start at Maya Bay," DNP adviser Thon Thamrongnawasawat told the BBC at the time.

The Guardian reported that more than 80% of the coral around Maya Bay has been destroyed because of pollution from litter, boats, and sunscreen.

Image: World Economic Forum

Data released by the DNP estimated an influx of 2.5 million visitors to the bay in 2018, CNN reported.

It's not clear how soon the beach may reopen. However, The Guardian reported that a royal gazette published by the DNP announced that restrictions on tourism would remain in place until the ecosystem "fully recovers to a normal situation."

Given that coral grows just half a centimeter a year, we may have to wait a while.

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