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Thai closing its iconic bay from 'The Beach' indefinitely for repairs

The DNP said the bay needs more time to recover after overcrowding of tourists damaged the beach and its marine ecosystem.

Maya Beach in Thailand. Picture: AFP

Maya Bay — the iconic bay in The Beach, a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio — is closing its doors to tourists indefinitely, Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced on Tuesday.

The DNP said the bay needs more time to recover after overcrowding of tourists damaged the beach and its marine ecosystem.

Since the release of The Beach in 2000, visitors have flocked from around the world to what is undoubtedly one of the world's most stunning beaches — but the environment has felt the impact.

According to The Guardian, DNP Director Songtam Suksawang said: "We have evaluated each month and found out that the ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily.

"It's very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well the plants which cover it."

The announcement comes after the beach was set to reopen on 30 September.

"We won't close it to tourism forever but have to do something to save our sea, and we have to start at Maya Bay," DNP adviser Thon Thamrongnawasawat told the BBC at the time.

The Guardian reported that more than 80% of the coral around Maya Bay has been destroyed because of pollution from litter, boats, and sunscreen.

Data released by the DNP estimated an influx of 2.5 million visitors to the bay in 2018, CNN reported.

It's not clear how soon the beach may reopen. However, The Guardian reported that a royal gazette published by the DNP announced that restrictions on tourism would remain in place until the ecosystem "fully recovers to a normal situation."

Given that coral grows just half a centimeter a year, we may have to wait a while.

Written by Tom Murray, Digital Fellow, Business Insider

This article was republished courtesy of the World Economic Forum.