The Phi Phi Islands, famous for being chosen to film “The Beach” will reopen to tourists on January 1, as per Thailand’s Department of National Parks.
Unlike the rest of the country, these were not closed due to the pandemic but because of environmental damages caused over the years after the movie was aired.
“Maya Bay has been continuously receiving interest from tourists around the world. But this has also caused [the natural area] to deteriorate, especially the corals,” said Natural Resources and Environment Minister on Nov 14.
“It has returned to a good condition,” he added.
Having learned from their mistakes, the Thai government has released new guidelines for those interested in visiting.
For starters, Thailand has outlawed sunscreens containing, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor or butylparaben, since these chemicals drastically exacerbate coral bleaching events caused by increased environmental pressures.
The Thai Department of Conservation said those four ingredients have proven to destroy coral larvae, impede coral reproduction, and cause reef bleaching.
Since this is considered a serious matter, people breaking the law will face fines of up to 100,000 baht ($2800)
A new set of entry rules have been also put in place. In addition to the COVID-19 requirements which include proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test and one-day quarantine, the islands will only take a limited number of daily visitors.
Only 8 speedboats will be permitted to dock there at a time, and visits will be limited to one hour with a maximum of 300 people per round.
Until 2018, the Maya Bay would receive as many boats as the islands could afford with tourists coming to perform all types of water activities. Not anymore. Once it reopens there will be a number of designated areas for aquatic activities and some others will be off-limits.
The government expects a further surge in tourists as more flights from the Middle East and Europe resume. Since Nov. 1 the country has welcomed 44,774 foreign visitors.