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Thailand closes Koh Tachai island indefinitely to protect it against heavy tourism
Thai authorities will close the idyllic island to visitors in order to allow its delicate ecosystem to recover from the damages caused by heavy tourism.
Heavy tourism led Thai authorities to close the Island of Koh Tachai, banning tourists indefinitely as of 15 October. The tiny island is located in the Andaman Sea and is part of the Similan National Park. Thousands of tourists visit it every year, often violating the daily limit of 70 visitors.
Considering the enormous tourist value of the island, which is known for its idyllic white beaches and diving, Thailand’s measure is magnified. The closure aims to allow the rehabilitation of the island’s ecosystem and coral reef.
Overcrowding “caused the island to quickly deteriorate,” Thon Thamrongnawasawat, the deputy dean of the faculty of fisheries at Kasetsart University, said. “If it’s not closed now, we’ll lose Koh Tachai permanently.”
“We have to close it to allow the rehabilitation of the environment both on the island and in the sea without being disturbed by tourism activities before the damage is beyond repair,” said Tunya Netithammakul, the director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation. “Thanks to its beauty, Koh Tachai has become a popular tourist site for both Thai and foreign tourists. This has resulted in overcrowding and the degradation of natural resources and the environment”.
Koh Tachai is not the only island affected by heavy tourism. The Phi-Phi islands, which became popular after The Beach by Danny Boyle, underwent an exponential increase in visitors. This led to huge amount of waste left on the once-pristine white beaches resulting in damages on coral reefs.
Thanks to its bold measure, Thailand opens a new, important chapter in environmental conservation. It also reminds that safeguarding the environment can’t be subject to economic interests, especially if economy itself is based on enhancing natural resources.
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