Thailand’s Maya Bay, made famous by the film The Beach has made huge strides towards recovery after the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) closed it to tourists amid worries that the eco-system had been irreversibly damaged.
The site was initially set to be closed for four months from 1 June following the destruction of over 80 per cent of its coral due to the sheer volume of tourists visiting the bay, but the decision was later made to extend the closure indefinitely. The site was receiving on average 5,000 visitors a day.
Park officials uploaded a video to Facebook recently showing dozens of blacktip reef sharks swimming close to the beach’s shoreline. The post added: “Come and count sharks! It's a good sign that Maya Bay has changed and that change is positive.”
One Thai marine biologist close to the campaign is reported by the Daily Mail to have said that the recovery was ‘beyond imagination’.
Despite the positives, Thai authorities have not given any indication as to when the bay will be back open to the public – or if it will reopen at all. While most of Thailand’s national parks close to the public between the months of May and October, Maya Bay has been kept open all year round due to the demand.
A National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department official said: “The reef will take a longer time to recover.”