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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


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Krabi

Two hour chase for escaped suspect in Krabi

The Thaiger

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Two hour chase for escaped suspect in Krabi | The Thaiger

Krabi Police took two hours to catch a suspect who successfully escaped whilst being prepared for a visit to court yesterday.

The suspect is 20 year old Tanin Pueakkhwan from Krabi. Tanin was arrested on October 12 after stealing a truck battery. He was waiting to be transferred to the Krabi Provincial Court.

While officers were preparing the court documents, Tanin flapped his hands and wriggled out of his restraints while he was being minded by police, and ran out from the Krabi Police Station.

More than 50 police were hunting for him within a 5 kilometre radius of the police station. It took about two hours to catch Tanin. He was taken back to the Krabi City Police.

He now has one additional charge for escaping whilst being in custody.

Two hour chase for escaped suspect in Krabi | News by The ThaigerTwo hour chase for escaped suspect in Krabi | News by The Thaiger Two hour chase for escaped suspect in Krabi | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Run out of money? Here’s the ‘how to’ guide to Begpacking.

The Thaiger

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Run out of money? Here’s the ‘how to’ guide to Begpacking. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: backslackers.com

“Aren’t you technically homeless? Why shouldn’t YOU cash in too. Why shouldn’t other people pay for you to travel? Begpacking (or beg packing) is a way for backpackers like you to earn money while you travel by begging for money or busking around the world.”

Thailand has its fair share of ‘beg packers’ each year – young travellers who apparently run out of money and end up on the streets, begging for additional funds to continue their travel. They come in two sizes – the ones that are simply sitting and begging and the others that are busking or doing something to earn some coin.

Run out of money? Here's the 'how to' guide to Begpacking. | News by The Thaiger

Begpackers really get a big response on social media. Some netizens say ‘leave them alone, they’re not hurting anyone’. Others call them pariahs and ‘should be sent back to where they came from’. Still others think they should be ‘discouraged’ with local police attention and fines.

In a Buddhist country the culture of ‘giving’ to the poor or less-fortunate is engrained. Sociologists believe that western travellers sometimes take advantage of Thai’s good nature when travelling around the Kingdom.

But now there’s actually a website that shows people how to ‘beg pack’ with the article titled…

BEGPACKING: How to pay for your travels by begging and busking

Everyone wants to travel around the world. Why wouldn’t they? Traveling is the best way to spend your teens and early twenties before you get too old to enjoy yourself. The problem with traveling though is that you need money to do it, no matter how cheap you are. And most of us don’t have a ton of money because we either quit our job to travel or never had a job in the first place. But don’t let a little thing like money stand in between you and your dream ‘round the world trip’. Need cash to travel? There’s a new way to get it: begpacking.

Run out of money? Here's the 'how to' guide to Begpacking. | News by The Thaiger
These two begpackers rounded up and fined by police three times in Krabi, Phuket and Bangkok

The article is mostly upbeat encouraging potential begpackers to earn the offerings made by passers-by. But suggestion Number 5 is to, well, just beg!

5. Just Beg for Money

You don’t need to busk to make money while begpacking on your travels. All you have to do is beg. Sit on a street corner, put out an empty cap or coffee cup, and start asking for money. It sometimes helps to have a cardboard sign that explains that you are backpacking abroad and need money to continue traveling.

Or something like, ‘HELP US FULFILL OUR DREAM!’ or ‘WORLD TRAVELERS NEED YOUR HELP!’ Everyone loves a sob story about how desperate your situation is. Locals will feel sorry for the foreigner trapped in a strange country and offer up anything they can spare. Other backpackers will feel your pain and will surely give you a few bucks of local currency. And other non-backpacker travelers will probably throw you a couple of bucks because they will give to any beggar they see.

Thailand has photos of begpackers being snapped and posted onto social media often enough. Here are a couple of eastern European begpackers that were caught by police three times in Krabi and parts of Phuket, last seen in Bangkok, trying the same trick.

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Krabi

Maya Bay coral “far from ready”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Maya Bay coral “far from ready” | The Thaiger

by Pratch Rujivanrom

The corals at Maya Bay are not strong enough yet to withstand the influx of visitors. This latest from the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (DNP) explaining reasons for the indefinite closure of the bay.

Though the iconic tourist attraction in Krabi’s Had Nopparat Tara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park has been off limits for four months to facilitate coral reef restoration, there have been only slight signs of coral recovery, according to the assessment of experts at the site. The experts said that this was because of the decades of damage inflicted on the coral reefs at Maya Bay by tourism activities, so the reefs needed more time to recover and gain enough strength to endure the impact of tourism before the bay could be reopened.

DNP’s National Parks Office director Songtam Suksawang said evaluation of the coral reef restoration efforts at Maya Bay found very little improvement in the condition of the reefs and the ratio of dead corals to living corals was still more than two to one. “The coral reefs at Maya Bay can be divided into three sections: the first section at the shallow reef flat on the North of the beach, the second section at the shallow reef flat on the beachfront, and the third section at the deep water reef at the edge of the bay,” Songtam said.

“None of these reefs showed a satisfactory recovery rate. Our study found that all three reefs in Maya Bay have a coral growth rate less than 1 per cent compared to before the bay closure period.”

According to the DNP’s latest coral reef survey at Maya Bay, it was found that the first section of the reef to the North of the beach had the highest number of living corals at 19.93 per cent, a 0.65 per cent increase after the coral restoration operation was undertaken.

Suphaphon Prempree, the head of the coral reef restoration operation, explained the higher living coral proportion there compared to other sections to lesser impacts from boat traffic and tourist activities.

The second section at the beachfront is still the most damaged area of Maya coral reefs. Only 2.83 per cent of corals in this area are alive, because this section of the reefs had received the most impact from tourism activities, but this area also has the highest increase compared to before the operation at 0.93 per cent.

In the third section of the reef at the edge of the bay, the number of living corals has increased by 0.18 per cent, the lowest recovery rate compared to other parts, making the current proportion of living corals in this area 16 per cent.

Looking at the current condition of Maya Bay’s coral reefs, Supaphon concluded that the resilience and ability of the reefs to recover naturally are still too low to allow the reopening of the bay to tourists.

“The recovery rate of the coral reefs will gradually increase over time, if we leave the reefs alone to let them rest and naturally recover themselves,” she said. “Considering the rate of restoration and the level of damage the reefs have suffered, I am sure Maya Bay’s coral reefs can be restored to their former beauty by just letting nature heal itself, but this will require decades of limiting human activities in the bay area.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Maya Bay coral

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