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Maya Bay, a beach in Thailand / ˈtaɪˌlænd / popularized by a Hollywood film, has been ordered by authorities to close down annually.
Thailand’s National Parks and Wildlife Department decided to close the beach for four months each year. This move is to rehabilitate Maya Bay’s marine life, which deteriorated due to the influx of tourists in the island.
The number of visitors in Maya Bay rose steeply after it was featured in The Beach, a movie that starred Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000. On average, Maya Bay accommodates around 4,000 tourists and 200 boats daily.
Aside from closing the beach, authorities also decided to limit the maximum number of island guests they would allow to only 2,000 a day. Boats, which sometimes cause damage to the island’s coral reefs, will also no longer be allowed to dock on Maya Bay.
A marine scientist who has been studying the island for 30 years witnessed Maya Bay’s deterioration. He said that compared to the island’s heavenly beauty long ago, it now looks pitiful and rundown. He added that giving Maya Bay its much-needed break can be the first step in helping the island return to its previous state.
Meanwhile, Thailand is not the only country that will be temporarily closing a famous destination to tourists.
The Philippine government also decided to temporarily shut down Boracay, an island famous for its white sand and crystal clear beaches. The island will be closed for six months, which is expected to cause losses in revenue amounting to Php 56 billion.
However, Philippine Department of Tourism undersecretary Frederick Alegre defended the island’s closure. He asserted that the move is not for gaining profit but for saving Boracay from further destruction.