Thailand’s famed Maya Bay to remain closed for at least 2 more years

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Thailand’s popular Maya Bay will remain closed to tourists for no less than two more years, a prominent marine ecologist overseeing coral rehabilitation efforts at the beach told dpa on Wednesday.

The pristine beach on the southern island of Koh Phi Phi, popularised by the 2000 movie “The Beach,’’ was closed for the first time in June after it was discovered that most of its coral had been damaged by boat anchors.

The government initially planned to close the beach for four months, however decided later to keep it closed longer without a definite timeframe.

“The rehabitation efforts take time. It’s especially difficult when most of the corals were dead,’’ Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine ecology professor at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, said.

He said that over 23,000 new corals have been planted since 2018, however it remains to be seen how many of them have been bleached due to the strong summer sun.

“Thailand’s overall coral damage has reached a critical level, with an alarming increase over the past decade,’’ Thon said, adding that the country’s booming tourism industry is to blame.

Some 38.2 million tourists visited Thailand in 2018, up from 35 million the year before.

At Maya Bay alone, there were some 4,000 tourists each day, more than the actual capacity of the beach.

After the reopening, it is expected that only about 2,000 people will be allowed to visit the beach per day. (dpa/NAN)

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