Beach made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio film to reopen

Destination was closed for years due to overtourism

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 17 November 2021 09:13 GMT
The famed beach has suffered huge damage to its ecosystem due to overwhelming numbers of tourists
The famed beach has suffered huge damage to its ecosystem due to overwhelming numbers of tourists

The beach made famous by the 2000 film The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio is set to reopen next year.

In an extreme case of life imitating art, Maya Bay in Thailand, the setting for Danny Boyle’s feature about an untouched tropical paradise that gets ruined by humans, was forced to shut in 2018 due to overtourism.

Located on Phi Phi Leh island in Krabi province, the beach was flooded by up to 5,000 tourists a day in the two decades following the film’s release, with the waste and plastic left behind wreaking havoc on the bay’s ecosystem.

Fragile coral was damaged, while boatloads of visitors leaked oil and disturbed sea creatures.

One visitor told the BBC that the once idyllic white-sand beach resembled “New York's Times Square”.

The decision was made to shut Maya Bay off to tourists in June 2018, initially for four months – but that period was extended by a further two years in 2019 after authorities had assessed the true extent of the damage.

Now, the popular spot is finally gearing up to reopen to the public in 2022, according to Thai officials.

However, they are keen not to make the same mistake twice: visitor numbers will be closely monitored and capped at 300 at any one time; visits will only be one hour long; the bay will only be accessible between 10am-4pm; and there will be a designated area for watersports.

Boats will also have to pull into a designated pier around the other side of the island, away from the famous bay.

Thailand ended quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated tourists from selected international destinations from 1 November.

The list of nations allowed in includes the UK, as well as China, Singapore, Germany and the US.

Tourists from these countries “should present a [negative] Covid test... and test once again upon arrival”, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-och.

If the second test is also negative, any visitor from those countries will be able to “travel freely like Thais”.

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