Published: Saturday 07 April, 2018

Like Boracay, Thailand Closes World-Famous Beach to Halt Environmental Damage

Maya Bay, the backdrop for Leonard DiCaprio’s film ‘The Beach’, has been ordered closed for four months. The Thailand government ordered the closure of Maya Bay so that it can recover from environmental damage.

The plight of Maya Bay is similar to Boracay in the Philippines, which will be closed for six months starting April 26 so that the government can rehabilitate the island. Over development, over population and years of environmental neglect has turned Boracay, once described as a beach paradise, into what President Rodrigo Duterte described as a ‘cesspool’.

Ever since it was featured in ‘The Beach’, Maya Bay has seen an influx of tourism. An estimated 200 boats and 4,000 visitors each day arrive at Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh island in the Andaman Sea. The influx of tourism has brought environmental damage to the once pristine location. Bearing the brunt of the damage are the corals and sea life.

“Islands have very fragile eco-systems that simply cannot handle so many people, pollution from boats and beachfront hotels,” said Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a prominent marine scientist and member of Thailand’s national strategy committee on environment development.

“It’s like someone who has been working for decades and has never stopped,” he added. “Overworked and tired, all the beauty of the beach is gone. We need a timeout for the beach.”

Maya Bay Closed for 4 Months Every Year

Many national parks in Thailand are closed for several months each year, usually from mid-May to mid-October, to allow wildlife to recover. But, due to its popularity with tourists, Maya Bay has remained open the whole year round. Now, Thai authorities will be closing Maya Bay for four months each year stating this June.

And when it re-opens, the National Parks and Wildlife Development  will set a limit of 2,000 tourists per day. Boats will no longer be allowed to drop anchor on Maya Bay as well. They will have to dock on the opposite side of the island to prevent damage to the coral reefs.

Maya Bay The Beach

Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from ‘The Beach’ shot in Maya Bay. (20th Century Fox)