Thailand’s Maya Bay will be shut until at least 2021 as it struggles to regenerate its natural resources.
The pretty bay, on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, shot to fame when it was featured in the 2000 film The Beach. International stardom meant the bay’s clear turquoise waters and white sand beach led to a spike in visitors.
It first shut in June 2018, to give the area time to recover from the damage excessive numbers of tourists were doing to the local ecosystem, including coral reefs.
The bay initially planned to reopen in October last year. However, Maya Bay will now look to reopen in summer 2021, to give more time for the natural environment to recover.
Songtam Suksawang, director of Thailand’s National Parks Department, told CNN Travel: “We will review again then if it is ready to open to tourists.
“We need more time to allow nature to fully recover. Our team will reassess the situation every three months.”
The bay has long struggled with big crowds. In 2017, up to 5,000 people a day visited the island, reached via speedboat from the nearby islands of Phi Phi and Phuket and Krabi on the mainland.
Last year, Jean-Luc Solandt, principal specialist of Marine Protected Areas, told The Independent: “Tourists are both ignorant of the damage they can cause by touching corals, and grabbing them, and also tend to be more clumsy than experienced divers.”
He added: “It has been proven that the products from sun cream can slough off your body and kill corals.”
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