Thailand is to close one of its islands indefinitely in a bid to end the negative impact on its environment of heavy tourism.
Koh Tachai, off the Phang Nga province, is part of the Similan National Park and is known for its beaches and coral reefs.
The majority of Thailand’s marine national parks close during the monsoon season, between mid-May and mid-October, but Tachai will not re-open from 15 October, the Bangkok Post reported.
“Thanks to its beauty, Koh Tachai has become a popular tourist site for both Thai and foreign tourists. This has resulted in overcrowding and the degradation of natural resources,” said Tunya Netithammakul, director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation.
“We have to close it to allow the rehabilitation of the environment both on the island and in the sea before the damage is beyond repair,” he added.
Experts said a beach on the island could hold around 70 people, but had experienced numbers up to 1,000, along with food stalls and tour boats.
Tourists are being warned to be aware of tour companies still trying to sell trips to the island after its closure in October, following 14 companies that were found by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to be still selling packages. Two deep sea dive sites will remain open to tourists and divers.
The closure is in line with a wider plan for resource management in the Andaman Sea.
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