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Maya Bay’s long road to recovery

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Maya Bay’s long road to recovery | The Thaiger

by Kornrawee Panyasuppakun and The Thaiger

Phi Phi tour operators are crying foul and seeking assistance from authorities after the local tourist magnet, Maya Bay has been declared ‘closed indefinitely’ pending further rehabilitation of the corals around the bay.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is extending the closure of Maya Bay’s Had Nopparat Tara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park in Krabi with no clear schedule for when it might re-open. The announcement was published on Monday in the Royal Gazette and has made global headlines yesterday – CNN and express.co.uk amongst many others.

According to environmental inspectors, the current ecosystem has not recovered sufficiently so tourism activities in and around Maya Bay remain banned from October 1 onwards until the marine and coastal ecosystem is back to its normal state.

The Nation reports that the order earlier this year gave the beach a four month break from tourists – from June to September. The move was an attempt to save the battered coral reefs at the |sugary-white beach made famous by the 2000 Hollywood film “The Beach”, from the year-round tourist traffic.

After the island closed its doors, the national park and wildlife authority started planting hundreds of corals in Maya Bay, and some have started growing branches, DNP director-general Jongklai Worapongsatorn said, adding a baby shark was also spotted in the bay that was once filled with tour boats.

However, despite some good news, the bay’s marine ecosystem remained very fragile and only 30 per cent had recovered, said director Songtham Suksawang of the department’s National Park Office. Prior to the closure, most of the corals in Maya Bay had died, crushed by boats and their anchors, he said. Also, the sand on the beach was disappearing under the weight of 5,000 tourists who visited the island daily, he added.

Maya Bay's long road to recovery | News by The Thaiger

But not everyone is happy with the continued closure.

Wattrapol Chanthararo, chairman of the Koh Phi Phi tourism business club, said the tourist ban on Maya Bay will affect their business as tourists had already booked travel packages. The ban was imposed without hearing their opinions, he claims. They would meet to discuss the matter and hand over a letter to Krabi’s provincial governor.

He said a meeting of club members would be called on October 8 or 9 to discuss ways around the problems caused by the department’s latest announcement. Their conclusions would be forwarded to the Krabi governor and the related agencies.

Songtham said: “We understand tourism is a source of income for the community and the country, but if we continue to exploit the natural heritage until it is beyond recovery, tourism would completely end since no one would come anymore.

“Today the corals are growing steadily. If we open Maya Bay to tourists now, they will die and the lost marine ecosystem may take decades, not just years, to recover,” he warned.

The director pointed out that corals at Koh Yoong, a famous snorkelling site for example, had recovered well after tourism was banned for just two years.

There are many other attractions in Krabi province and the nearby provinces such as Koh Poda, Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Hong, and Separated Sea (Thale Waek), Songtham suggested.

While Maya Bay is out of bounds to tourists, the DNP is drawing up a sustainable tourism plan. The boats would have to dock at floating piers at the back of the island, and the number of boats and tourists will be limited.

In the near future, the tour boats would be visiting the island in allotted shifts and vacation-makers would need to make bookings before visiting Maya Bay.  All these ideas are being considered by the authority and marine experts.

Maya Bay's long road to recovery | News by The Thaiger



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Krabi

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

The Thaiger

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

Maya Bay’s extended closure keeps the wraps on one of southern Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions.

Worapot Lomlim, chief of the Hat Nopparat Thara Phi Phi Islands national park confirmed this week 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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Krabi

Man found with drugs at Krabi checkpoint

The Thaiger

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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

The Thaiger

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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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