Southeast Asian beaches agonize


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The Thai beach of Maya Bay is a clear example of how an enclave can die of success . This little corner of the island of Phi Phi did not take long to rise to fame when the famous film Leonardo Beach Dicaprio was filmed here. The bay soon began to be crowded with tourists, even becoming an unpleasant place. And worst of all: it lost part of its coral reefs and its fauna.

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“When I visited Maya Bay it was super crowded. I had the feeling that instead of going to relax, I was killing him on the beach, overwhelming, ”describes his experience at the bay Héctor Rodríguez, a Spaniard based in Bangkok .

A feeling shared by Patricia Rodríguez, another Spaniard who lived for a long period in Thailand . "I traveled to Maya Bay twice a couple of years ago and was up to boats and tourists, " he says. "Last time I went with my mother and did not get off the ship. They even queued to anchor and lower tourists. You couldn't even sit on the sand with the towel. "

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Tourists who arrive on the Thai coast help boost the local economy, but also leave tons of waste and threaten the natural beauty of these places, especially when they travel on boats.

The Thai Government has gotten into the matter by announcing the indefinite closure of the beach until it recovers its natural resources, thus prolonging a measure that began on June 1 and was initially scheduled to end this October.

The objective pursued by the Government is to stop the trajín that supposes the daily arrival of 200 boats and around 4, 000 tourists, an exaggerated figure taking into account the small dimensions of the bay. In Thailand some marine parks usually close every year for the same dates, but Maya Bay, due to its popularity, had not taken a break since the DiCaprio film was filmed in 1999 .

Maya Bay abarrotada

Paradise, crowded © Getty Images

The closure of Maya Bay concerns ships and not tourists, although access will now be somewhat more complicated because it will be done through the back of the bay.

La realidad de Maya Bay no tiene nada que ver con el idilio de la película

The reality of Maya Bay has nothing to do with the idyll of the film © Alamy

Maya Bay is not the first beach to which access has been restricted in Southeast Asia, a region that suffers from acute tourist overpopulation. The environmental authorities of Thailand had already closed the island of Koh Tachai in 2016 because it was “supersaturated” and tourism activities seriously damaged the environment.

In mid-April, the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, also ordered the closure of the popular island of Boracay for six months after calling it a "sewer" . The pollution of its waters had become excessive, especially since many companies had been pouring wastewater directly into the sea for years.

La 'idílica' llegada a Koh Tachai

The 'idyllic' arrival at Koh Tachai © Getty Images

Saving coral reefs is a necessary task. These ecosystems are not only a tourist attraction, but, more importantly, they help protect the coasts from storm and erosion, and are home to 25% of marine species.

* This article was initially published on 06.06.2018 and updated with new information

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