Destinations

Closure of Thailand tourist hotspot extended until 2021

The most famous beach in Thailand will be tourist-free for two years, according to Thailand’s National Parks Department.

Maya Bay, popularised by the film The Beach that starred a young Leonardo DiCaprio has been closed since late last-year, following its original closure tasked from June to September that led to an indefinite closure of the beach.

In early October, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) said the ecosystem needed more time to recover, and that the closure would be extended “until natural resources return to normal”.

The ecosystem needs more time to recover, and the closure would be extended “until natural resources return to normal”.

With the recent announcement, as covered by CNN and TIME, it looks like that closure will again be extended into the indefinite future.

According to Songtam Suksawang, director of Thailand’s National Parks Department (NPD), Maya Bay will be off-limits to tourists until at least June 2021.

Maya Bay has been closed since June last year as part of a rejuvenation project for its decimated corals.
Maya Bay has been closed since last year as part of a rejuvenation project for its decimated corals. Over-tourism, boat traffic and warming waters have played their part in the destruction of the region’s reef.

“We will review again then if it is ready to open to tourists,” Suksawang said. “We need more time to allow nature to fully recover. Our team will reassess the situation every three months.”

The director’s comments sound awfully familiar, not just for Maya Bay, which has gone through a slew of closures due to damages caused by over-tourism, but also for several other Thai national parks.

Each year, the DNP closes several national parks for a period to allow for ecological recovery time. Depending on weather and park conditions, dates vary as the closures are often due to extreme weather, especially during the rainy annual monsoon that may create unsafe conditions.

In Krabi, which has three national parks, the DNP closes Ko Rok Nok and Ko Rok Nai, Ko Ngai, Mu Ko Ha, and Kong Hin Daeng-Hin Muang in the Mu Ko Lanta National Park, from 16 May to 14 October every year.

Furthermore, the Department has closed Ko Yung in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National park and the trekking trail of Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, until further notice.

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