Thai bay made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio's 'The Beach' finally set to reopen

A beautiful bay in Thailand, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Beach”, will be open to the public again almost three years after it was closed due to environmental damage, authorities said on Wednesday.

With its white sand and crystal clear waters, Maya Bay became a popular tourist destination after the film based on Alex Garland’s novel was released in 2000.

While the 4,000-5,000 daily visitors gave the local economy a welcome boost, the rubbish they left behind – especially plastic – damaged the island’s ecosystem and Thai authorities closed it to tourists in May 2018.

Although originally scheduled to be closed for four months, Maya Bay, which is part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, has remained closed to aid environmental recovery.

“The closure of Maya Bay served to restore natural resources. Now natural resources have returned to good levels, ”said Varawut Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment, in a statement on Monday.

He added that domestic and international tourists would be welcome again to visit the tropical paradise when it reopens in January.

However, these visits are strictly regulated. According to the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, only 300 tourists per hour are allowed on the island between 10:00 and 16:00. They must then leave once their allotted time is up.

In addition to efforts to regrow coral off the coast of the bay, the ministry said that wild plants and trees have been replanted on land to “prevent erosion on the beach.”

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According to Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist at Kasetsart University in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, more than 30,000 fragments of coral have been introduced into the bay, which was “famous” among Thais before the release of “The Beach”.

He added that he believed the bay was “healing” as the shark population increased.

“We got over 100 sharks before we had 100 speedboats,” he said.

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