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Confusion reigns ahead of Maya Bay closure, June 1

PHUKET: With Thailand’s renowned Maya Bay off Phi Phi Island, east of Phuket, to close to all boats for four months starting tomorrow (June 1), officials are at a loss of how to enforce the new restricted number of tourists visiting the bay.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 31 May 2018, 05:51PM

Maya Bay off Phi Phi Island will be closed to all boats for four months from tomorrow (June 1) through Sept 30. Photo: Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat

Maya Bay off Phi Phi Island will be closed to all boats for four months from tomorrow (June 1) through Sept 30. Photo: Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat

The decision was made last year to close the bay to all tour boats for four months, from June 1 through Sept 30 this year, so that the local marine ecosystem can recover from the heavy tourism traffic that caused much damage to the iconic coral reefs in the bay.

After the bay is re-opened to visitors come Oct 1, there will be a limit of 2,000 visitors to the bay per day. Previously, the number of visitors to the bay was 4,000 to 5,000 per day. (See story here.)

However, the previously announced plan for tourists to be allowed to disembark their tour boats at Loh Samah Bay, on the opposite of of the island, in order to be able to walk along a jungle path to view Maya Bay from a distance of some 400 metres during the four-month closure remains confused.

Hat Nopparat-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park Chief Worapoj Lomlim earlier this year made it clear that visitors would still be able to see Maya Bay by coming ashore at Loh Samah Bay, a report corroborated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) only two weeks ago. (See TAT report here.)

However, in order to protect corals in Loh Samah Bay, no boats are allowed to drop anchor there anymore and the much-touted “floating dock” at Loh Samah Bay has yet to be built, making it very difficult for the tourists on board to be able to get ashore.

Park Chief Worapoj was oblique in his explanations to The Phuket News today.

“Right now this floating dock in Loh Samah Bay is in the process of design and construction by a private company,” he said, while declining to name the company hired to complete the job.

“I can’t give specific details of the dock to the public right now, but I can confirm that the floating dock will be built from strong and environmental materials. It will be strong enough to be stable during storms and strong waves and it will definitely not cause any harm to reefs,” Mr Worapoj said.


“It will take time to build this in the (southwest) monsoon season. It will be finished as quickly as possible,” he added.

Even the limit of 2,000 visitors per day come Oct 1 is still up in the air.

“I can’t confirm officially that the limit will be 2,000 visitors a day after the bay re-opens. We still have to wait for Kasetsart University to finish the research on the environmental damage already done to the reefs,” Mr Worapoj said.

Also, the “e-ticketing” system announced to be introduced to limit the number of visitors arriving in the bay by boat after the bay re-opens has a long way to go to become a reality.

“Right now there is no e-ticket system for anyone to use. Anyone who wants to visit the area can just do it the old way and buy a ticket with a tour company,” Mr Worapoj said today.

“We don’t have an online system for registered tour operators and boat owners. We haven’t got that far yet. Also, I can’t confirm ticket prices or where or how tickets will be available. We need to hold more meetings so we can come to some conclusion about it later,” he added.

“Please understand that I very much want to save the environment at Maya Bay and enforce a limit of 2,000 visitors a day there, but making this work is not easy to deal with. We want private businesses and tour companies to help us push this project together,” Mr Worapoj said.



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Kurt | 01 June 2018 - 12:06:14

Show of possible confusion about how to combine the present money greed/extra income flow with the public environment call.
To choose 1 of them probably impossible.
At the end it will be money. Money here is God.
Environment is for a few people like Dr Tan, calling in the dessert.

BenPendejo | 01 June 2018 - 09:26:11

No big surprise here, as Thai officials prove once again, their inability to manage Thailand's valuable natural resources. They haven't a clue what they're doing, and now that the moment is upon them...they're all sitting around with their hands in the air. The only thing I think we can be sure of, is that nothing meaningful will be done to protect these resources.

chris007 | 01 June 2018 - 02:31:11

Once again, the big puffed up chest when announcing they will save the reef, but lip service and reality in thailand are poles apart. My prediction is it will all fall in a heap because it was all a publicity stunt done without even considering the logistics required.I suspect the whole event may cause more environmental damage than before.

Kurt | 31 May 2018 - 19:30:20

Not only confusion reigns, if you understand what I mean.
Who starts to build a floating pier in monsoon time?
Waiting ( doing nothing time) for research about environmental damage? Not yet clear enough?
E-ticketing works if done as airlines do! One ever tried to get a e-ticket on a fully booked flight?
The system is there, not even needs thinking of Officials, just copy. A thought to far?

vegasbaby | 31 May 2018 - 19:00:24

If you change the word 'confusion' for 'corruption' in the headline, it will be more accurate as this ongoing tourism disgrace is only going to get worse, not better.  More than 50% of Phuket's 10 million annual tourists buy an island tour - if you can actually limit the numbers to Pee Pee, the demand will only shift to other islands. Advance planning and rules controls are not...

Discover Thainess | 31 May 2018 - 18:54:09

I don’t think there are any surprises here......

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