Thailand’s natural wonders are feeling the force of tourism, forcing one to close temporarily.
Maya Bay, a great beach on Phi Phi Leh island made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio in the not-so-great movie The Beach, will be temporarily closed for four months a year from June, as reported by the Associated Press.
Thailand’s National Parks and Wildlife Department made the decision on Wednesday to allow the island’s coral reefs and sea life to recover. The beach is open all-year round, in contrast to the many Thai marine parks closed between mid-May to mid-October.
It’s in part thanks to The Beach, where the location has received fame since the movie featured it as a paradise, receiving a stream of tourists since then. The beach receives on average 200 boats and 4,000 visitors daily.
“It’s like someone who has been working for decades and has never stopped,” Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a Thai marine scientist, told AP. “Overworked and tired, all the beauty of the beach is gone. We need a timeout for the beach.”
Authorities mulled over the decision to close the beach last year, but needed time to inform tour operators.
In 2016, authorities closed the island of Koh Tachai to allow its environment to recover from the impacts of heavy tourism, while 14 diving sites were closed in 2011 due to damaged coral from abnormally high water temperatures in the Andaman Sea.