Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi island will be closed for an additional month, to allow the full recovery of the local ecosystem, according to a statement made by Woraphot Lomlim, the head of Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. The area had previously been scheduled to reopen to the public on 30th September, but this date has now been pushed back out of concern for the local environment.
Since it was made famous by the film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000, Maya Bay has become a magnet for tourists, with as many as 5,000 visiting the site every day during peak season. This steady influx of people and boats to a delicate ecosystem has taken its toll in recent years, so the decision was taken, for the first time, to close the bay and allow the recovery of coral reefs, mangroves forests and the general ecosystem. The closure, effective from 1st June 2018, has also been imposed to protect tourists from strong winds and high waves during the monsoon period.
The decision to extend Maya Bay’s closure was made by the Krabi national park’s advisory committee, made up of 25 members and chaired by the provincial governor. In a move that has caused some consternation among local businesses and tour operators, the committee confirmed that any negative impact on tourism in the area was a secondary consideration, subordinate to the protection of natural resources.
“Since its formal opening for public access in 1999, Maya Bay had, until now, never been allowed a chance to recover from the impact of increasing tourism,” explained the park chief. “It is a natural resource of the world – not just exclusively for Krabi people – that nature has created,” he continued. He went on to mention many other attractions in Thailand that have temporarily closed during the monsoon months without severe repercussions for local businesses.
“So, what is done the first time is bound [to result in] criticism or issues. But we all have to look at the long-term benefits, not just today and tomorrow,” he stressed.
Maya Bay is now expected to reopen on 1st November 2018.