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Thailand's Maya beach is closing to cope with the pressure of tourism

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Danny Boyle’s famous movie ‘The Beach’ featured a stretch of coast with towering cliff edges, crystal blue waters, and dazzling white sand. But there are now fears that uncontrolled tourism has severely damaged the ecosystem, forcing it to temporarily close.

Tourists have flocked to Maya Bay in Thailand since the release of ‘The Beach’ in 2000, hoping to get a taste of the solitary piece of paradise that Leonardo DiCaprio experienced in the classic film. Nowadays, tourists will struggle to take find a spot to sunbathe or take a picture that doesn’t feature other holidaymakers.

Environmentalists are concerned that there has been untold damage to the ecosystem through uncontrolled tourism, with damage mainly stemming from piles of litter left by departing tourists. 

Speedboats and jet skis have also added to the pollution in the area, with propellers consistently churning up the seabed and adding to the inescapable noise of holidaymakers. 

When these tourists arrive expecting a solitary and picturesque setting that is perfect for relaxation, similar to the scene found by Leonardo DiCaprio, they are met with the complete opposite. Many have found disappointed in the overcrowded Maya Bay and can only stand a few hours there.

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Local Thai authorities have decided that they must close the short strip of beach on the island of Ko Phi Phi to allow for the natural environment to recover from the consistent waves of tourism.

The beach will close for the first time ever, with the period lasting from the 1st June until September 30th. This period is a relatively quiet time of year so will therefore not impact on tourism dramatically but will allow the beach the rehabilitation it so richly deserves.

Thon Tharmrongnawasawat, an advisor to the Thai National Parks Department, said: "We have significant information that all the boats that come in and out really impact the coral reef.

"We won’t close it to tourism forever but have to do something to save our sea, and we have to start at Maya Bay."

Even those who haven’t seen the famous film still view Maya Bay as a nirvana, flocking from all over the world to visit. It has recently become notorious for becoming a typical destination on the bucket list for travellers, gap year students, and holidaymakers.

When Maya Bay reopens later this year, the number of tourists who are allowed to visit will be dramatically reduced in order to prevent any further damage being caused to the environment.

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