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Famous Maya Bay to remain closed

September 27, 2018

Thailand authorities decided to indefinitely extend the closure of the beautiful bay made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "The Beach" until it recovers from years of environment damage caused by too many tourists.

Thailand Maya Bay Phi Phi Leh  - Bucht schließt zur Erholung der Korallen
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Lalit

The announcement said an assessment by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation found that after having been closed to tourists for four months, Maya Bay still had not recovered. Initially, the beach had been set to reopen for tourists on October 1.

Maya Bay, part of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, had remained open year round to cater to tourist demand since a Hollywood crew set foot there in 1999 to film the dark backpacker tale that starred DiCaprio. Many Thai marine national parks are shut annually for four months.

The pristine beach on the southern island of Koh Phi Phi was closed for the first time in June after it was discovered that most of its coral had been damaged by boat anchors. The part of the bay where damaged corals are rehabilitating and new corals are being planted has been closed to boats permanently, the National Park Department has said.

The temporary closure will continue each year to prevent further damage to the environment. Thailand's overall coral damage has reached a "critical" level, with an alarming increase to 78 per cent from 30 per cent a decade ago, said Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a prominent marine ecologist overseeing the effort.

The beach at Maya Bay had received an average of 200 boats and 4,000 visitors each day. Recent surveys by a team led by marine biologists found a large part of the coral reefs in the area is gone and sea life has virtually disappeared.

at/is/ks (dpa)