The economic impact of closing down Maya Bay for four months

So what impact will closing down Maya Bay for four months have? Will it be cataclysmic for Phi Phi and Krabi tourism? Will tourist operators survive?

Pullawat Pitigraisorn from SCB’s Economic Intelligence Centre has done the sums and estimates that tourist earnings for Krabi Province will only suffer a 6 percent drop as tourists will continue to come to the popular tourist region but simply choose other destinations instead of Maya Bay. They expect tourists will still flock to Ko Poda, Sa Morakot, Talay Waek and Railway beach to compensate for the closure of the popular postcard beach.

Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi marine officials are closing down access to the beach from June to September 30 this year. Although they cite the reason is to provide time for the popular tourist trap to ‘recover’ its ecology the move is just a token offering with environmentalists saying that any real recovery of the area’s ecology will take decades, not a few months in low season.

Officials say tour boats will still be able to enter the bay and observe the beach from the bay but not go onto the beach. They are also planning to restrict access to Maya Bay when it re-opens to just 2,000 a day instead of the current numbers of up to 5,000 a day. In practice this will be difficult to enforce and, if the past provides any forecast, enforcement is unlikely to be consistent.

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The Economic Intelligence Centre is hoping that the private sector and government officials come up with a long-term plan to resolve the problem of providing access to popular tourist beauty spots but not killing the golden goose with too much tourist ‘love’. They suggest a sustainable solution needs to be found otherwise there will be enforced closures of popular tourist destinations like Boracay Island in The Philippines (which has been closed for six months under orders from President Duterte).

Their report is also recommending that a list of lesser-known destinations be prepared and marketed by tour operators for the many other islands and beaches in the region. Controversially the EIC are also recommending raising the entry fees to locations like Maya Bay to help attract more ‘quality’ tourists.


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