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Thailand's famous Maya Bay reopens to tourists with conditions to protect it

Thailand has reopened Maya Bay, a white sand beach made famous by the 2000 film "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, more than three years after closing it to allow its ecosystem to recover from the impact of thousands of visitors each day.

Thailand has reopened Maya Bay, a white sand beach made famous by the 2000 film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, more than three years after closing it to allow its ecosystem to recover from the impact of thousands of visitors each day.

Maya Bay on the Thai island of Ko Phi Phi Leh, known from the Hollywood film The Beach, has reopened to visitors after more than three years.

The beach, surrounded by 100-metre (328-ft) high cliffs is only accessible by boats from nearby spots such as the islands of Phuket or Phi Phi, or mainland Krabi.

Authorities shut the whole of Maya Bay to the public in 2018, saying coral reefs and beach areas had been damaged by constant tourist activities. But since the start of this year some visitors have been allowed to return.

However, strict regulations now apply to protect the paradise of Maya Bay from the consequences of mass tourism.

To ensure it remains protected, authorities said it is now only open from 7am to 6pm daily, the number of guests is limited to 375 tourists per hour, with a cap of 4125 people allowed to come per day and each visit is limited to 60 minutes.

Swimming will be prohibited and boats will only be allowed to dock at a designated location at the back of the bay to avoid damaging coral reefs.

After the worldwide success of The Beach from 2000, directed by Danny Boyle and starring Leonardo Di Caprio, tourists from all over the world literally descended on the beautiful bay.

Carelessly dropped anchors caused severe damage, especially to the offshore coral reef. Because of the environmental damage, the Thai government imposed a ban on visitors in June 2018, which was actually only supposed to last a few months.

In May 2019, however, it was extended by two and a half years.

“The sharks have come back, coral reefs are regrowing, and the water is clear again,” Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Reuters.

“These things show that nature will heal if we give it time, and we have to work to keep it that way too.”

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Source: AAP