Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi Nationa Park authorities, located in the southern province of Krabi, announced they will close Maya Bay and Loh Sama Bay from August 1 to September 30. The move aims to preserve nature and prioritise tourist safety during the monsoon season.
Ratchanok Parenoi, the national park director, pointed out that Thailand experiences the monsoon season from August to September annually. This period brings strong waves and storms, posing significant challenges to sea tourism.
The primary concern during this season revolves around the safety of tourists, especially at Maya Bay, a popular destination for many visitors. Keeping the area open during this time would put numerous individuals at risk.
Additionally, preserving nature is a pressing issue. Since the easing of pandemic restrictions, both Maya Bay and Loh Sama Bay have witnessed an influx of tourists. For nature to recover adequately, a two-month closure is deemed necessary.
A notable example of the positive impact of such measures occurred in April when Reuters reported an increase in black reef shark populations following the closure of Maya Bay during the pandemic. However, with the area’s full reopening, the shark populations decreased rapidly.
Balancing the needs of marine life and nature with the demands of tourism presents a complex challenge. While the authorities have attempted to limit visitor activities and restrict the opening period of the area, they face pressure from tour agencies and locals who rely on tourism for their livelihoods.
During the temporary closure of Maya Bay and Loh Sama Bay, tourists can still explore two other renowned spots in the national park, namely the Viking Cave and Pi Leh Bay.
The necessity of this decision was further underscored by a recent incident near the beach’s pier, where heavy rain and storms caused three long-tail boats to be blown 50 metres out to sea and subsequently sink. Retrieval efforts by officers were hindered, necessitating a wait until the sea level subsided.
The closure of these bays demonstrates a proactive approach towards preserving both the natural beauty and the well-being of visitors in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park during the challenging monsoon season.