Mr Worapoj told The Phuket News today (Mar 30), “After the most recent meeting of the marine national park consultation committee on Wednesday (Mar 28), it was agreed that Maya Bay will be closed to all visitor access during the monsoon period for four months.
“There were several meetings about this, on Mar 1, Mar 22 and then Mar 28 to discuss the possibility of closure to allow the reef and marine environment to recover. At the most recent meeting on Mar 28 it was finalised,” he said.
“The meeting was presided by the Director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department of Had Nopparat Thara-Phi Phi Island National Park,” he noted.
“Tourists and visitors can still take photos from boats. As long as the boats do not pass over any coral reefs,” he confirmed.
After the re-opening in September, 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.
The news soon follows Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawa telling The Phuket News on Mar 22 that the bay needs to be closed off to tourists entirely in order for corals and the marine ecosystem to recover comprehensively. (See story here).
“My first choice is to close Maya Bay entirely to let the corals there recover. But if that will not be done, then we must close the bay entirely for four months a year and limit the number of people accessing the bay outside this four-month period to just 2,000 people a day,” Dr Thon said.
“We should also limit the number of boats arriving at Loh Samah Bay to just 100 boats a day,” he added.
Moreover, the decision is a turnaround from Mr Worapoj re-iterating on Feb 15 this year that the bay would not be closed, only inaccessible from Maya Bay and that the beach would still be accessible via an alternative drop-off path behind the Maya Bay. (See story here).