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Hands off Maya Bay

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Hands off Maya Bay | The Thaiger

In one corner, marine scientists and biologists who are urging the government to keep Maya Bay closed as it struggles to rehabilitate following years of tourism abuse. In the other, local tour operators who say that the region’s main money-spinner has been taken away from them affecting their pockets and the many people they employ.

Meanwhile Maya Bay is slowly recovering without the visit of 5,000 tourists and boats every day.

Marine ecologists are asking the tourism sector to desist from pressuring authorities for an early reopening of the world-renowned Maya Bay to help ensure a proper rehabilitation process.

But local tour operators, affected by the closure, will meet tomorrow to discuss their next move as the peak tourism season draws near. The pressure on authorities to re-open the tourist magnet is intense.

On September 28, the National Parks Department issued an order for indefinite closure of Maya Bay in order to allow more time for damaged coral reefs to recover.

Experts say the four-month closure of Maya Bay was insufficient for rehabilitation due to the popular site’s fragile ecosystem.

Assistant Professor Datchanee Emphandhu of the Forestry Faculty of Kasetsart University, said Maya was like a seriously ill patient who needs more time to recover. Rushing to reopen the place would result in the likely collapse of its ecosystem.

“The damage could be irreversible.”

She was speaking in response to a call by tour companies in the area to reopen the destination once the tourism industry enters the high season later this year.

On September 28, an official announcement was made in the Royal Gazette about the indefinite closure of Maya Bay from October 1, after the previous closure order was supposed to end on September 30.

One of the world’s most-visited tourist destinations, made popular by the Hollywood movie “The Beach”, Maya Bay’s limited 30-rai (4.8 hectares) area, attracts about 5,000 tourists per day on average, or between 1.5-2 million visitors per year.

The National Parks Department, after holding consultations with its advisers and marine experts, said earlier that Maya Bay had been seriously environmentally degraded because of overcrowding.

The department has allowed boats to bring tourists to watch Maya only from a distance while officials work on rehabilitating the area and its fragile ecosystem, including the damaged coral reefs that need more time to regrow.

Marine ecologist, Sak-anan Plathong, from Prince of Songkla University, suggested that the department ensure protection of the fragile ecosystem at Maya Bay and prevent further disturbance to the fragile beach forests inside the nearby island.

“An elevated boardwalk over the fragile sand and forests should be built to help reduce pressure on the ecosystem. If there is going to be a reopening of the beach, it should be delayed beyond the high tourist season, maybe a month or two after the season.”

“In addition, the beach should be given one or two days’ break per week to allow natural replenishment of sand on the beach.”

The number of visitors, he added, should also be restricted.

Assistant Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat posted on Facebook that the front of the bay should be off limits forever to allow corals to rehabilitate and regrow otherwise all the efforts invested now would become useless.

National Parks Office chief Songtham Suksawang said the department wishes to see the bay’s ecosystem fully rehabilitated before it decides to reopen the bay to tourists again.\

The department is in the process of procuring projects to build a boardwalk and a new floating pier at the back of the island so that coral reefs at the front of the beach will not be disturbed. The department has also commissioned four universities to conduct research on the appropriate number of tourists who should be allowed to visit six popular beach destinations in Thailand: Samet islands in Rayong province; Surin, Similan and Tapoo islands in Phang Nga province; Chang island in Trat province; and Lanta island in Krabi.

Hands off Maya Bay | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Krabi. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Krabi

Man found with drugs at Krabi checkpoint

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Man found with drugs at Krabi checkpoint | The Thaiger

A man has been arrested with methamphetamine pills at a checkpoint in Krabi today. He was stopped at the checkpoint because his girlfriend wasn’t wearing a bike helmet.

The Krabi City Police arrested 22 year old Atsadawut Nuisuchon who was driving his motorbike past a checkpoint in Krabi city centre today. He was found with 20 methamphetamine pills.

Police stopped him as his girlfriend wasn’t wearing a safety helmet. Atsadawut fled the scene but left his motorbike and girlfriend behind.

Police followed him and arrested him within half an hour. He and his girlfriend were taken to Krabi City Police Station for further legal action.

Man found with drugs at Krabi checkpoint | News by The Thaiger Man found with drugs at Krabi checkpoint | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Fake 500 baht banknote found in Krabi store

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Fake 500 baht banknote found in Krabi store | The Thaiger

A fake 500 baht banknote has been discovered at a convenience store in Krabi.

Police headed to the store in Mueang Krabi District after they were notified of the dodgy 500 baht note.

43 year old Maimunoh Somsa, the store manager, was waiting for police with the item in question – a very good copy of a 500 baht Thai banknote.

The manager told police that at about noon on Wednesday there was a woman buying cigarettes and a lighter for 72 baht. She handed over the 500 baht banknote. The staffer didn’t realise at that time that it was a fake. It was later discovered long after the woman had made her purchase.

Police are continuing their investigations to find the suspect and track down the source of the fake note.

Fake 500 baht banknote found in Krabi store | News by The Thaiger

Fake 500 baht banknote found in Krabi store | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Maya Bay’s extended closure “vital to conserve the ecology”

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Maya Bay’s extended closure “vital to conserve the ecology” | The Thaiger

Worapot Lomlim, chief of the Hat Nopparatthara-Phi-Phi Islands national park has confirmed that he might keep Maya Bay closed for up to five years to allow the current recovery to continue.

The Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has agreed to extend the closure of Ao Maya, or Maya Bay, located on one of the Phi Phi islands between Krabi and Phuket, for another six month period after an initial 10 month closure to allow nature to regenerate the ecosystem.

The Chief reports that the local ecological systems of Maya Bay, degraded by years of accelerating tourist traffic, has steadily improved during the current closure. Up to 5,000 tourists a day were visiting Maya Bay at its peak before authorities weighed up the pressures of the conservationists and tour operators and decided it was best to close the popular tourist attraction for an extended period

He cited the frequent sightings of blacktip reef sharks near the beach and the gradual growth of some 23,000 corals farmed at a coral centre in Trang province, which were planted in the Bay with the help of volunteer divers.

After the next six-month extended closure, Khon Worapot indicated that the department will consider extending the closure for an even longer period, up to 4-5 years, to allow full rehabilitation of the environment and the ecological system.

Maya Bay was closed to all tourist access on June 1, 2018.

Maya Bay's extended closure

Up to 5,000 tourists a day were visiting the Bay at its peak

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