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Maya Bay’s Overtourism Recovery, 6 Months On

maya bay phi phi island

Stunning Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi has been a picture of overtourism run amok, with dozens of boats clogging the bay and up to 5,000 visitors trampling over its powder-white sands daily. In an effort to restore this once-pristine jewel of the Andaman, the Thai authorities took the extreme step of closing Maya Bay completely to tourists in June 2018.

Six months on, a group of journalists visited the island to see how it’s looking now.

What they found is pretty remarkable:

The sun is emerging from the horizon. Gently, the boat glides towards a deserted beach, bypassing young corals. On board, marine conservationists get ready to meet a group of new visitors to the bay – blacktip reef sharks.

About 90 of them are cruising back and forth along the shoreline. Many more are further away in the calm glass-like water of Maya Bay. Their presence would have been unimaginable only months ago, when the area was packed with hundreds of tourist boats.

Full story: Channel News Asia

Video: Sharks in Maya Bay

Maya Bay’s recovery is encouraging, but when looking at tourism development in Southern Thailand as a whole there’s still a long way to go in shifting to a more sustainable model. Until more brakes are applied, there’s a huge risk that Thailand will continue down a path to destroy the very things that brought tourists here in the first place. 

But for now, let’s just enjoy seeing the sharks swimming free in those crystal clear waters.

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