Viral photo of overpacked Maya Bay beach accompanies warning from biologist

Tourism is taking a serious toll on the country’s famous Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park. The gorgeous area, featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach,” is crowded with as many as 5,000 tourists daily — even during low-season.

Respected marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat posted the photo of tourists, packed so closely together that they couldn’t even lay down on the 250-meter beach, to his Facebook page.

“There are about 5,000 tourists at Maya Bay during the low season. I saw it and wanted to scream,” he wrote.

Thon is an Assistant Professor and Deputy Dean of the Fisheries Faculty at Kasetsart University. He used the shocking photo, taken on recent visit to the island with officials of the marine park, to warn government agencies of the consequences if the beach is not protected from such large crowds.

He mentioned seeing the beach filled with boats, ferries and tourists and voiced that those encouraging tourism have done a great job — maybe too great and that they should also think of the future of the beach and marine park.

“[Tourism promoters], please follow up if the national park can handle [this many tourists.] I want you to get out of your conference room and look,” Thon added.

The marine park charges an entry fee of THB200 per person and, if they see 5,000 on an average day, as they have reported, the park takes in THB1 million daily.

Thon noted the pollution and damage caused by so many people visiting the Krabi province park, the bleaching already done to the area’s coral and that, in the future, all the reefs could die if no changes are made.

He recommended a seasonal closure of Maya Bay to allow for restoration and rehabilitation of natural resources, according to Thai PBS.


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