After big reopening, Krabi’s Maya Bay to temporarily close again

Just four months after its epic reopening in January, officials are announcing that Thailand’s Maya Bay, located on Koh Phi Phi Leh in Krabi, is planning to temporarily close again from August to September this year. The bay had reopened in January after closing in 2018, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, because of how much tourism had damaged the ecosystem.

Since the reopening, almost 100,000 people have visited the bay this year, raking in over 20 million baht of income, according to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. It’s also been a busy time for tour operators who have been busy with visitors, eager to get back to the famed Maya Bay.

But yesterday, the ministry announced the bay will temporarily close again in order to further protect its fragile wildlife. The minister said that even though the ministry had taken strict measures to limit the number of visitors to Maya Bay, over 3,000 visitors came every day during Songkran. The ministry allows 380 tourists per hour to visit the island, and requires them to book trips there in advance. The ministry has banned swimming in the bay.

But even though walking on the actual beach are being banned, people can still visit Maya Bay and take photos from just outside the zoned area.

Shaun Stenning, from 5 Star Marine in Phuket, who run numbers tours to Koh Phi Phi Leh and Maya Bay every day, says it’s a positive decision.

“While Maya Bay will be closed to visitors walking on the actual beach, just like during the original closure you will still be able to view the bay from a boat. So it’s just going back to the same rules as prior to it’s reopening.”

Maya Bay’s 3 year closure was successful at bringing back plant and animal species that had disappeared due to tourist overrun. The most notable animal to return to breed in the bay is the blacktip shark. In March, a park ranger told NPR that before the park closed, when there could be over 6,000 tourists a day, no one would ever think of seeing the local sharks. He said now, on a good day, 160 sharks can be seen.

Maya Bay was popularised by the 2000 movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

See The Thaiger’s video from last year about controlling tourists in Maya Bay (filmed before the Bay reopened to full tourism)….

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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