The stretch of coast made famous in Danny Boyle’s movie The Beach is to be closed indefinitely, following years of environmental damage from tourists.
Maya Bay, on the island of Ko Phi Phi Leh in Thailand, had attracted more than 5,000 tourists every day, and as many as 200 boats.
Thai authorities closed the bay in June this year, with plans to keep it closed for four months, but that has now been extended to a minimum of a year, according to The Guardian.
“We have evaluated each month and found out that the ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily,” said Songtam Suksawang, the director of the national parks department.
“It’s very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well the plants which cover it.”
According to reports, Thai authorities had been reluctant to close the area, as it brings in as much as £9 million in tourist revenue.
But it’s said that as much as 80 percent of the natural coral in the area has been destroyed by boats, tourist litter and the use of sun cream, which then washes into the sea.
After Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Alex Garland’s cult novel was released in 2000, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a fervent environmental activist, Maya Bay became one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Thailand.
The production itself was fraught with controversy in the following years, with allegations that the landscape was altered, with dunes moved, plants and bushes removed to widened the beach area, and ‘alien’ palm trees not indigenous to the locality planted to make the shooting set more ‘paradise-like’.
20th Century Fox was named in lawsuits which were later brought by environmental groups.