Thailand’s Department of National Parks (DNP) have announced that Maya Bay will remain closed to visitors until further notice. The popular tourist attraction is located on uninhabited Phi Phi Leh. The neighbouring island of Phi Phi Don is where many people decide to stay when visiting the area and this remains open as usual. The original plan was to close Maya Bay from June-September this year to allow the marine life and bay to recover from the impact of over-tourism. However, the recent announcement by the DNP says Maya Bay will remain closed indefinitely to allow the marine ecosystem enough time to fully recover. Although no definite date has been given for a reopening, the Bangkok Post newspaper quoted one senior park official hinting it could need a year or more to allow the ecosystem time to recover. In continuing attempts to restore the ecosystem of Maya Bay, the DNP have so far planted more than 1,000 corals. If and when Maya Bay does reopen to tourists, boat operators will be subject to tighter regulations and there will be a reduction in the number of daily visitors allowed.
photo of Maya Bay taken in February 2005
Maya Bay was made famous by the film ‘The Beach‘ (released in 2000) which featured Leonardo DiCaprio. The bay and beach are outstandingly beautiful, but with so many boats and day-trippers flocking here from nearby Krabi, Phuket and Phi Phi Don, action had to be taken sooner rather than later to preserve the marine life and beauty of the area. Although tourists hoping to visit Maya Bay any time soon will be disappointed, in the long-term this can only be seen as a positive move. The people complaining the loudest about the continued closure are the local tour operators who have been a major part of the problem by putting profit ahead of the environment. The extended closure of the bay is one of a number of eco-friendly initiatives that also include:
Plastic ban introduced at National Parks
Annual low season closure of National Parks
Smoking ban on a number of Thai beaches
An online ticket system to limit the number of visitors to National Marine Parks
No more overnight stays allowed on the Similan Islands