Maya Bay flourishes after tourist ban

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 22 November 2018

Blacktip reef sharks, which are an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem, have returned to Thailand’s world famous Maya Bay, after the county’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) closed the bay to tourists in June.

Maya Bay became famous after the release of the 2002 Hollywood movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and tourists began to descend on its shores in droves – up to 5,000 people a day. After about 80% of the coral in the bay had been destroyed by anchors from boats, litter and excessive sunscreen in the water, an initial visitor ban of four months was announced and began on 1 June. At the end of this period, however, officials deemed it necessary to extend the restriction indefinitely.

It seems that the ban has started to pay off – Thailand’s DNP released this uplifting video that shows the recovery of the area that at one point might have been considered a lost cause.

It’s not clear when the ban will be lifted and how the Thai government intends to manage the visitor numbers in future, but The Guardian reported that the DNP intends to maintain the restrictions on tourists until the ecosystem “fully recovers to a normal situation.”