hailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced last week that the famous Maya Bay will be closed for an additional two years, until mid-2021.
This decision was motivated by the first positive results of the closure that began on June 1, 2018 and has led to the recovery of the local ecosystem.
However, other islands and beaches in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Koh Phi Phi National Park will remain accessible to tourists.
Maya Bay is only 250 metres long and 15 metres wide. However, its popularity grew rapidly after the release 19 years ago of the Hollywood movie The Beach, which featured Leonardo DiCaprio, as some scenes were shot there. The consequence was an influx of 5,000 tourists a day at its highest peak.
Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist at Kasetsart University and a member of the National Park Committee, said that the extension of the closure was justified not only by the protection of the environment but also by the necessary development of facilities such as a pontoon, a tourist boat dock, toilets and staff quarters. An electronic ticketing system will also be implemented when it reopens, he added.
Mr. Thon indicated that the number of visitors per day will now be limited to 2,400 during the high season. Precise schedules could also be set up.
An online booking system will be developed for Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park as part of a pilot project.
This initiative aims not only to limit the number of visitors, but also to reduce corruption, by ensuring that all entry fees are effectively reinvested in the state coffers.