National park chief defends extended Maya Bay closure
The one-month extension to the temporary closure of Maya Bay is to better allow the full recovery of coral reefs, mangrove forest and the general ecosystem, as well as to protect tourists from strong winds and high waves during the period, Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park head Woraphot Lomlim said on Tuesday.
The attraction on Koh Phi Phi in Krabi’s Mueang district, made globally famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring movie “The Beach”, had initially been closed since June 1 for the four monsoon months until September 30.
But park officials recently declared a one-month extension, with the site now set to re-open on November 1, resulting in many people criticising the move as possibly leading to a negative impact on tourism.
The decision to extend Maya Bay’s closure was made by the Krabi national park’s 25-strong advisory committee chaired by the provincial governor, Woraphot said, citing that the national park prioritised the protection of natural resources while tourism took a back seat.
Since its formal opening for public access in 1999, Maya Bay had until now never been allowed a chance to recover from the impact of increasing tourism, he said.
“It is a natural resource of the world – not just exclusively for Krabi people – that nature has created,” he added.
Citing that many other attractions had temporarily closed annually from May 15 to October 15 in the past decades without any problems, the park chief said the temporary closure of Maya Bay and the subsequent extension had only been implemented for the first time this year.
“So, what is done the first time is bound [to result in] criticism or issues. But we all have to look at the long-term benefits, not just today and tomorrow,” he stressed.