Simon Calder says he’s ‘holding off’ booking a holiday
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Thailand’s Maya Bay shot to fame after it was used in the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Beach’. Since it became famous, the beach has been plagued by overtourism.
Thai authorities closed the 250m long cove in 2018 in a bid to restore its natural landscape and protect the environment.
After remaining closed throughout the pandemic, Thailand has now reopened the beach to visitors.
The Governor of Tourism Authority Thailand told Reuters: “The sharks have come back, coral reefs are regrowing and the water is clear again.
“These things show that nature will heal if we give it time, and we have to work to keep it that way too.”
Tourists are no longer allowed to swim in the bay’s beautiful waters as it could impact the shark population.
Motorboats are also banned from the bay and there is now a cap on visitor numbers during the day.
During peak season before Maya Bay was closed, the beach saw up to 5,000 visitors per day.
However, some tourists are sceptical about the new measures and doubt that they will be effective.
GogetMaya tweeted that a nearby bay, named Lo Sama, was suffering from overcrowding since Maya reopened.
They tweeted: “The downside to the reopening of Maya Bay is certainly the way Lo Sama Bay is being treated.
“It used to be a quiet beautiful spot for snorkeling, now it’s become a parking lot. I wish I had a magic wand to solve the matter, it can only get worse once mass tourism comes back.”
Wildlife explorer agreed saying: “Looks awful, too many people. I never wanted to visit Maya Bay in all the times I have been to Thailand, because I knew the crowds would be too much.”
However, Sadah Osmam tweeted that the beach was on their bucket list while several tourists posted photos there.
The stunningly beautiful bay has been the top tourist attraction on the Thai island of Phi Phi since The Beach was released in 1999.
It is a dramatic spot surrounded by breathtaking limestone cliffs and beautifully clear sea waters.
In 2019, scientists found that over 80 percent of the coral reefs surrounding Maya Bay had been destroyed due to tourism.
The beach was heavily affected by pollution from tourist boats, suncream, litter and overcrowding.
In peak times, up to 200 boats would visit the beach every day to unload tourists eager to experience the famous bay.
Thailand is currently open to tourists if they are fully vaccinated but has a mandatory quarantine of seven to 10 days which must be applied for through a special scheme.
Using the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ scheme, tourists can spend their first seven days at a designated Phuket resort before exploring the rest of Thailand.
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