KRABI – Thai Authorities have said the closure of Maya Bay, part of an island in Krabi’s Mueang district globally famous after it was picked as the shooting location for the movie “The Beach” in 1999, has been extended indefinitely from Monday (Oct 1), sending tour operators into a disarray.
The bay and nearby bays in Koh Phi Phi in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park, are annually closed between June 1 and Oct 1 during the monsoon season and it was supposed to be reopened on Oct 1.
However, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) decided to have Maya Bay stay closed after learning that the marine ecological system needs time to repair after having sustained serious damage caused by hordes of day-tripping tour groups.
It is considered the most visited national park site, bringing around 400 million baht in revenue last year. During the peak season, about 5,000 visitors — more than double its capacity — have been visiting the beach on Maya Bay each day.
The beach is only 250 metres long and 15 metres in width.
“Maya Bay now needs an urgent rehabilitation due to extensive damage, especially its beach that has been subsided by more than 2 metres as a result of being trodden on by a large number of visitors in the past years,” said Songtham Suksawang, director of the DNP’s National Park Office.
The sand from the subsided beach had covered the coral reefs and killed them, which made the past three-month closure insufficient for coral recovery, he said, admitting that he couldn’t estimate as to when the beach will be ready to receive visitors again.
Maya Bay’s closure has drawn immediate protests from tour operators who claimed they had not been given advance notice. They said Maya Bay is a main attraction and many tourists would be disappointed that a visit to the famous bay is now taken out of the itinerary.
Wattrapol Chanthararo, chairman of the Koh Phi Phi Tourism Business Club, said the closure of Maya Bay came as a terrible blow to tourism on the entire island