Tourists Have Ruined The Beach From Leonardo DiCaprio's 'The Beach'
This is why we can't have nice things.
If you ever dreamed of hitting up the pristine piece of paradise made famous by a strapping, young Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2000 film The Beach, then we’ve got some bad news for you.
Thanks to a major influx of tourists following the release of the movie 18 years ago, Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh island has now been forced to close to the general public until September 30, 2018, following major damage to its coral reef and sea life.
In a stark contrast to the empty, unspoiled shores seen in Danny Boyle’s film, the popular destination now bears more resemblance to New York’s Times Square than an island paradise, with droves of tourists taking selfies and snorkelling while an estimated 200 motor boats pour non-stop in and out of the bay each day.
Its immense popularity has also seen the beach polluted with tonnes of rubbish and the coral reef ravaged by anchors, prompting the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to issue a statement enforcing the closure of the area to tourists so that the ecosystem can heal.
During the four-month period, the DNP will undertake a coastal and marine environment quality evaluation study on the condition of reef and beach resources, environmental control and tourism management," the TAT statement explained.
“It’s like someone who has been working for decades and has never stopped,” marine expert Thon Thamrongnawasawat told Reuters, adding, “Overworked and tired, all the beauty of the beach is gone. We need a time-out for the beach.”
When the bay does reopens to visitors, it will have a daily limit of 2000 tourists and boats be forced to dock on the opposite side of the island.
“Islands have very fragile ecosystems that simply cannot handle so many people, pollution from boats and beachfront hotels,” Thamrongnawasawat added.
He is, however, optimistic that a break from damage made to the environment in Maya Bay will allow the area to regenerate and flourish.
I have always dreamt that one day we could work to bring her back to life. I have been following and working on Maya Bay for more than 30 years. I had seen it when it was a heaven and I see it when it has nothing left. Anything that we can do to bring this paradise back to Thailand is the dream of a marine biologist."
Tourism accounts for 12 per cent of Southeast Asia’s economy, with recent data suggesting a massive 38 million people expected to visit Thailand this year.
Feature image: 20th Century Fox