The beach made famous by the film The Beach will remain closed until 2021 to recover from an overflow of tourists which damaged its coral reefs.
The idyllic Maya Bay on the island of Phi Phi Leh shut its doors to visitors temporarily in June last year. National park officials said it would re-open in a few months, but officials have decided to ban tourists until 2021 to give the environment more time to recuperate, according to the BBC.
Tourists have flocked to the beach en masse since the 2000 moving starting Leonardo DiCaprio made it famous. Before its closure, the small beach strip received as many as 5,000 sightseers a day, according to the BBC. National park officials say when the park eventually re-opens, visitor numbers will be restricted and boats will not be allowed to moor in the bay, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP), according to the BBC.
Although the environment seems to be slowly recovering – blacktip reef sharks have returned to the bay – some locals are not happy about its closure.
Wattana Rerngsamut, head of the local tourism association, told AFP that public hearings should be held to decide the fate of the beach “so that local people can earn a living,” reports the BBC.