Maya Bay to close again for 2 months
Tourists fees to visit 'won't be raised yet'
published : 7 May 2022 at 04:00
newspaper section: News
writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Maya Bay, which reopened to tourist on Jan 1 after being off-limits for over three years, will be closed again from August to September for the purposes of natural rehabilitation.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announced the news to protect the island's sensitive ecology yesterday.
Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said that plans to manage tourism in the beautiful cove -- made famous by the 2000 flick The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio -- were on track.
Almost 100,000 people have visited the bay this year generating over 20 million baht of income, he said.
"We could say we made the right decision by introducing new regulations to manage tourism activity on this small but world-class island. It was prudent to forbid boats from docking in front of the beach, and also moving the entrance to the back of the island," Mr Varawut said.
He said that despite strict measures to control the number of tourists, the area was inundated over the long Songkran weekend when Maya Bay received over 3,000 visitors a day.
The ministry closed the island for three and a half years to restore its broken marine ecosystem. The long break has helped turn back the clock and restore its marine ecology, resulting in a healthier coral reef and attracting long-absent blacktip reef sharks.
According to the ministry's regulations, up to 380 tourists can visit the island for every hour it is open so as not to disturb the balance of nature. They are required to get off at Loh Sama Bay at the back of the island and walk five minutes along a wooden trail to Maya Bay. Swimming activity is prohibited in the bay, and advance bookings are required.
As more tourists are expected following the country's recent reopening, the minister said he has ordered the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to fix any outstanding problems related to the QueQ application. The department has been relying on this app for advance bookings to visit national parks.
Tourism revenue from national parks countrywide is expected to double by year's end. In 2021, the department collected 30 billion baht from entry fees.
Commenting on speculation that tourist fees to visit Maya Bay will be raised, Mr Varawut said that was likely as the ministry aims to promote it as a premium world-class destination. But this plan will not be implemented immediately as the global economy has to recover first, he added.