International desk, May 10: A Thai bay that was made iconic by its appearance in the film The Beach is to remain closed until 2021.Maya Bay, on the island of Phi Phi Leh, was temporarily closed last year after officials said a sharp rise in visitors had severely damaged the environment, BBC reports.
Before it closed, up to 5,000 people were visiting the bay every day and most of its coral died as a result.
Authorities have now extended the ban on visitors by two years to give more time for Maya Bay’s ecology to recover.
The beach featured prominently in the 2000 film of that name, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, who advises the Thai department of national parks, told the BBC in January that when the park reopens the number of visitors will be restricted and boats will be banned from mooring within the bay’s waters.
Local tourism operators have said they rely on the beach.
The head of the local tourism association, Wattana Rerngsamut, told AFP that there should be public hearings “so that local people can earn a living”.