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By Nat Sumon and Linda Givetash
BANGKOK, Thailand – A Thai tourist spot closed to the public after being overrun by travelers inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Beach “is likely to resume in 2021
. Thai officials announced in May 2018 that Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh Island would be indefinitely restricted after mass tourism destroyed its coral reef, sea life and white sand.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and advisor to the Government National Park Department, told NBC News on Friday that the closure would remain in force for two years.
That period is needed to build facilities – including a bridge, footpath and sanitation system – to better manage the return of tourists, Thamrongnawasawat said.
Maya Bay became world-famous after a Hollywood crew sat on its sand in n 1999 to film “The Beach”, the dark backpacker language based on a novel by Alex Garland.
In recent years, it has seen about 5,000 tourists daily. One study aims to determine how many visits will be allowed in the future, he said.
The government had previously said that a limit of 2000 daily tourists was likely when the bay opened again. An e-ticket system will also be installed to handle visits.
Thailand had about 35 million international visitors in 2017, a fivefold increase of slightly more than two decades.
Nat Sumon reported from Bangkok and Linda Givetash from London.