Thai authorities have closed Maya Bay, made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 movie The Beach, due to ecological damage caused by huge numbers of tourists.
The popular white-sand beach and turquoise water on the island of Phi Phi Leh in southwest Thailand was closed between June and September, but experts felt more time was required for its corals and coastline to recover.
The head of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, Woraphot Lomlim, told EFE on Wednesday that the bay would remain closed as long as it takes for the bay’s ecosystem to recover.
The order, effective from October 1, also includes the Loh Samah Bay in the eastern part of the island, on the opposite side of Maya Bay.
Mr Woraphot said that the small Yung Island, north of the Phi Phi archipelago, has been closed to tourism for two years due to environmental degradation.
In 2006, Thailand’s Supreme Court ordered film studio 20th Century Fox and other officials to pay compensation for the damage caused to Maya Bay during the filming of The Beach.
Ko Phi Phi, located between Krabi province and the island of Phuket, is one of Thailand’s most popular destinations, and the closure of Maya Bay has led to criticism from the tourism industry, which accounted for 12 per cent of the country’s GDP last year.
Last year Thailand received 35.38 million tourists, nine per cent more than the year before, and hopes to welcome 27 million next year.