If this starts to become more of a PSA than a piece of news, we apologize. But stop littering, and stop treating natural treasures as your home sofa or block party. As Thailand has proven, they can be taken away. If you’ve seen Danny Boyle’s cult classic “The Beach” featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ve laid eyes on Maya Beach, a magnificent cove in Thailand’s Phi Phi islands. But rising tourism concerns mean future visitors may need to consult the film, rather than their travel agent.
The Government of Thailand will close Maya Bay for three months over the summer from June through September. During this time, none of the 5,000+ tourists per day will be allowed to zip into the iconic cove. Over tourism has caused considerable damage to the aquatic ecosystems in surrounding reefs and areas. Not to mention litter, trash and (tourist trash) destroying pristine land.
5,000 tourists per day on a stretch of beach, comfortably meant for 50 at a time, is far from ideal. But Thailand is experiencing record tourism, with upwards 35 million annual visitors and booming tourism means incredible new revenue for the country. Shutting beaches or limiting their capacity would put a spanner in plans of budding tourism entrepreneurs. But of course, if there’s nothing left to see – that would be even worse for business.
There’s a fascinating divide in tourism. Governments are eager for new revenue and tourists bring arguably the most instant opportunities. But there’s a breaking point for everything. With the rise of social media, the new “hot” destination is always an Instagram post away, but too much heat can turn the more independently minded travelers away. Whenever there’s too much of a boom, there’s likely to be a bust. The smartest governments are taking steps to balance desire for new visitors with a preservation of what makes places great to visit. Like banning photos!
How do you feel about “over tourism”?
HT: The Telegraph