However, visitors will still be able to access the bay on foot after arriving at another bay nearby, Park Chief Worapoj Lomlim told The Phuket News today (Feb 15).
“Maya Bay itself will not be closed to visitors, we do not use the word ‘closed’,” Mr Worapoj emphasized this afternoon.
“Maya Bay will simply be prohibiting all boats from accessing the beach via the bay during the period from June to September,” he said.
“There will be no boats allowed at all through Maya Bay. The marine life and corals need time to recover,” he said.
“However, the beach itself will not be closed to visitors because people can still access the beach on foot from an adjacent bay through the back, at which boats can park,” he added.
The bay where boats may land is called Loh Samah Bay, and is located on the south side of Phi Phi Lei Island. From there, tourists will be able to walk the 250 metres across the small isle to see Maya Bay firsthand.
However, Mr Worapoj stressed, as he said in late November last year (see story here), that the number of boats allowed to bring tourists to Loh Samah Bay will be limited.
The exact number of boats bringing visitors to Loh Samah Bay still has yet to be decided, he said.
“We know there are many problems brought on from the number of tourists visiting the site, but it is difficult to regulate as the boats that bring tourists arrive from many different areas from different provinces, namely Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket,” Mr Worapoj said in November.
“This issue is very important but right now I can’t give a number of how many [people and/or boats] will be allowed to visit the site each day,” he added.
“At our best estimate at this stage, we are looking to allow an average of 2,400 visitors per day, but this is not yet confirmed as we have yet to best balance the number of people visiting the area, the damage done to the environment and the livelihood of all the people who rely on bringing tourists to Maya Bay,” Mr Worapoj noted.
The confirmation by Park Chief Worapoj today follows the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) yesterday branding the news that Maya Bay will be closed to visitors this June-September as “false news” in a post on its Facebook page.
“News in the international media today that Maya Bay will close to tourists is false news. There has been no official announcement yet to close the bay or island. We will send out a press release soon,” the TAT said in its Facebook post. (See here.)
In answering queries from readers, the “TAT Newsroom” explained it was confident of its position “Because we called the Department of Parks and they said they never released any announcement to the media.”
The TAT Newsroom later posted, “It is possible that the Department of Parks will later decide to close the bay for a short period. But no decision has been made by them yet.”