Maya Bay, a very popular beach on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, is all set to be closed off to tourists from June through to September. During these three months of closure, authorities will attempt to rectify years of environmental damage caused largely by tourism.
Maya Bay is a highly popular beach among tourists, with as many as 5000 tourists visiting the breath-taking beach daily! The tourists come in largely by boat from Koh Phi Phi or Phuket.
Ironically, the popularity of Maya Bay is largely due to the famous 2000 film, titled ‘The Beach’. In the movie Leonardo Di Caprio plays the lead role and he is now known to be a passionate environmentalist. He would surely be displeased by the state of this famous beach, which was the set of the movie. The movie’s plot adds another measure of irony, as it is about an American tourist searching for authentic and secluded paradise – definitely not what Maya Bay is anymore.
Maya Bay is really looking a little worse for wear. It has been reported that over 80 percent of the bay’s coral reefs have been destroyed, which are meant to be one of the bay’s most beautiful features. The destruction of the coral is due to plastic waste, construction and the dozens of boat anchors that are thrown onto the reef daily.
This is a prime example of irresponsible and unregulated tourism taking its toll on the environment. The destruction is so bad that officials say that the perfect situation would be to close Maya Bay off to tourists permanently. But even the three months that Maya Bay is planned to be closed for, is expected to have a negative effect on tourism in the area. Tourism in Thailand is huge, making up roughly 18 percent of the GDP.
It is not certain what tour companies specializing in trips to Maya Bay will do from June to September this year, which are some of Thailand’s busiest months of the year, but it is advised that they start making the appropriate plans for when the beach is officially closed.