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Asia Minute: Thailand Closes Island Because It's Too Popular

liverbright / Pixabay
liverbright / Pixabay

The start of peak travel season is still a few weeks away, but it’s already been a strong year so far for Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry.  Visitor arrivals had a record first quarter, and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority expects a strong summer.  In Thailand, a busy period for one island has led to a different result. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

When it comes to tourists, one of Thailand’s popular beach spots is just saying no.

Or no thank you…..at least for the time being.

Koh Tachai is an island in the Andaman Sea…off the west coast of Thailand.

It’s part of the Similan National Park.

The website beachmeter.com recently called it Thailand’s most beautiful island.

Publicity like that has drawn tourists by the hundreds—both Thais and foreigners.

One local environmental expert says a beach with a capacity of 70 has often been packed by more than a thousand on weekends.

Authorities say it’s all become a little too much.

They are closing the island to visitors so that the beaches and surrounding coral can recover.

A high-ranking government official told the Bangkok Post “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.”

The official closing date is October 15th, but Thailand’s marine national parks in the Andaman Sea have just shut down all visitor operations for the annual monsoon season.

So effectively, the beach is already closed to tourists….for an indefinite period of time.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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