The announcement came in a letter from the DNP dated Sept 28 and posted on the Facebook page of Director General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Thaya Netithammakun yesterday (Oct 1)
Along with the photo was the message,, “This is the official notice from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. The DNP official realises the terrible condition of the marine environment at Loh Samah Bay and Maya Bay. In view of this, tourism activities were to be banned in Maya Bayfrom June 1 to September 30.
“However, the DNP have recently found that the Maya Bay marine environment has not been restored sufficiently and are therefore enforcing regulations regarding entry to national parks which were introduced in 2009,” the message read.
It continued, “The closure of Maya Bay was to be extended until Oct 1, and then further until Nov 1. However, it has now been decided that both Loh Samah Bay and Maya Bay be closed for tourism activities until further notice.”
Speaking to The Phuket News today (Oct 2), Chief of the Hat Nopparat-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park Worapoj Lomlim confirmed, “The closure of Loh Samah and Maya bays was reconsidered again on Sept 25. Many officials including experts from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and others including in particular marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat were involved in this meeting. The decision they reached was set out in an official letter dated Sept 28.”
He repeated, “Tourist will not be allowed at Maya Bay and Loh Samah Bay.”
Asked whether tour boats will be allowed to bring tourists to shore in Loh Samah Bay, he said, “They can do only take photos from outside of the buoyed area.”
Asked whether both bays would be closed until the marine environment condition is better, he replied, “Yes, we confirm that is the conclusion.”
The Phuket News then asked when Loh Samah Bay and Maya Bay would reopen to tourists. All Mr Worapoj would say was, “I confirm the same as the official notice dated Sept 28. The decision is final. The closure has been extended until the marine environment has been satisfactorily restored.
“Before it reopens we need experts and biologists to analyse the area.
“My original thoughts were that it could not reopened on Nov 1 this year. Restoring the marine environment needs to come first, he said.
“Honestly, this national park has never been closed like this for 20 years. It is now time to save the area,” he added.