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Asia Minute: Some Southeast Asia Beaches Closing to Tourists


State tourism officials expect 2018 to be another record year for visitors to Hawai‘i. And while there’s a growing global market for travel and hospitality, parts of Southeast Asia are going in another direction: restricting tourism. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

An increasing number of islands around Southeast Asia are cutting off access to visitors. In most cases, that’s a temporary step—allowing eco-systems to recover from too much tourism.

Reuters says several islands in Thailand and the Philippines are closing beaches.

That includes Maya Bay in Thailand—which nearly 20 years ago was featured in the Leonardo DeCaprio movie “The Beach.”

In the Philippines, the island of Boracay will start to turn away visitors for six months, starting at the end of April. Boracay has issues with over development and structural challenges including sewage treatment for a growing number of tourists.

In other areas, the main concern is coral.

Thailand has tried to curb visitors in certain areas before—shutting down several diving sites in 2011 because of danger to the survival of coral.

Credit / Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
Maya Bay, Thailand

Two years ago, the Bangkok Post quoted the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources as saying that up to 80-percent of coral reefs around several islands near Phuket have been damaged—in part from rising ocean temperatures—but tourists have not helped.

At the time, Thailand’s government expected an annual visitor tally of 30 million.

This year, Thai officials expect the country’s visitor count to hit 38 million.

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