Travelers hoping to visit Thailand’s famed “Maya Bay”, are going to have to wait a bit longer to enjoy those creamy white shores and the towering limestone cliffs.
Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has announced that the Bay is going to remain closed for tourists for another two years for the ecological system to recover better. DNP had initially planned to close the beach for four months in June 2018 but later decided to keep it closed longer without a definite timeframe and now the new opening date is end of 2021. Further plans for better management of tourists at Maya Bay are also underway as the damage has been massive and rehabilitation efforts take time.
Maya Bay was made more famous by a 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio “The Beach”. Although it was a pretty famous tourist spot even before the movie but after it people who hadn’t even heard of Phi Phi, had certainly heard of Maya Bay and many considered it their inspiration for travelling to Thailand.
During the peak season Maya Bay was receiving up to 5-6,000 tourists a day. The tourists were unwittingly destroying the beach and surrounding areas with litter and the natural ecosystem was completely damaged by so much trampling. Meanwhile the natural coral was being destroyed by the anchors thrown over the side by the boats delivering them to the famous beach and all the sunscreen that was washed into the water.
Since its closure there has been an increase in sea creatures like reef sharks and ghost crabs. Phi Phi national park marine officials have also managed to successfully plant 23,000 corals.
Assistant Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a Kasetsart University marine biologist and member of the national park’s committee said that during this time that Maya Bay is closed, the department is working on not just protecting the environment but also taking measures to improve the facilities for future visiting tourists. They are planning on limiting the number of daily visitors and putting in time limits.
An e-ticket system will also be put in place for when it reopens with Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. This aims to limit the number of visitors and reduce corruption, making sure all entry fees are fed into state coffers.