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Parks Department Mulls Closing Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands

Phuket, Sat Apr 29 2017
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The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is considering temporarily closing Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands to give the world-famous beach’s ecology time to recover.

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation chief, Thanya Nethithammakul, said the department has considered closing the beach in the Noppharat Thara Beach Phi Phi Islands National Park for some time to restore the marine ecological system that has almost been destroyed as a result of large-scale tourism.

“We have seen the success of nature recovery after closing other tourist spots and we think the same approach could work at Maya Bay. We are looking into the possibility and a proper time to close it,” he said.

Yung Island in the same park has been closed for about two years and the recovery of natural marine resources has been dramatic. Maya Bay became famous after the movie The Beach came out in 2000. The beach where the movie was shot, with its clear water, beautiful coral and white sands, became one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

During peak season, about 5,000 visitors – more than double its capacity – visit the beach each day, he said.

Sarayuth Tanthien, chief of the Noppharat Thara Beach-Phi Phi Islands National Park, said he has discussed the issue with tour operators and there was no objection to the closure, but the department should inform operators in advance so they can alter their tour programmes.

“If possible, we will close the bay from July to September this year. That is the monsoon season and fewer tourists visit the beach. We also plan to introduce measures to control the number of visitors,” he said. He said the beach’s coral reef has been damaged by boats, since there is nowhere to tie boats up.

Boat owners drop anchor, damaging the coral below. The department will set a side a new mooring area for boats, he added.

Last year about 1,000 local people called for Maya Bay to be closed. They also suggested the department open “Sam Hat” Beach on Phi Phi Don Island while the famous beach remained closed, Mr Sarayuth said.

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