The initial ban of four months was announced earlier this year and took effect on 1 June. The authorities have now extended the ban to an indefinite period due to the damage caused by the throngs of visitors who make their way to the bay each day. About 80% of the coral around Maya has been destroyed as a result of plastic litter in the ocean, the chemicals dumped into the water and the many boats that motor around the area.
“We have evaluated each month and found out that the ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily,” says the director of the national parks department, Songtam Suksawang. As a result of this damage, the authorities have said it’s impossible to say how long it will take until Maya has recovered from the damage and be open to the public again. The park was estimated to see as many people as 2.5 million in 2018 alone with a year-on-year increase of half a million.
With the area generating about 400 million baht in revenue a year, the decision to close it down was not taken lightly, but it is necessary for ensuring sustainable tourism.
This ban comes six-months after Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte declared that Boracay beach resort will close for 6 months due to tourist damage and last year Bali declared a “garbage emergency” after the coastal pollution by tourists was highlighted in a video by a British diver in Bali who filmed it.
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