Thailand has long been a popular tourist destination for its tropical climate, rich history, and exotic culture. While some of the country’s reputation among the tourism industry may be somewhat controversial there is a new controversy that might spell the beginning of the end for the Southeast asian country.
Bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos and to the east by Laos and Cambodia, the Kingdom of Thailand also harbors a gulf, across which resides a gorgeous tropical island called Koh Tachai, in the Andaman Sea. This island is home to the world-famous Similan national park which has become a popular destination for world travelers.
Apparently, though, the small island’s idyllic white sandy beaches and colorful coral has been overrun by an aggressive tourist industry and, as such, the country has announced it will close the island to tourism.
According to Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plants Conservation director general, Tunya Netithammakul, “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.”
The official goes on to say, “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.”
In 2015, the Thai government reported nearly 30 million foreigners visited the country and they expect to exceed these numbers by the end of this year. In fact, the country is so overrun by foreigners much of the year that tourists often complain of overcrowding.
To put this into perspective, Kasetsart University deputy dean of the faculty of fisheries, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, notes that the beach is so small it should only hold about 70 people, comfortably. Unfortunately, these numbers can sometimes exceed 1,000 people.
He also advises that the beach is “already crowded with food stalls and tour boats,” which has accelerated the islands deterioration. He goes on to warn that if they do not close the beaches now, they will have to permanently close Tachai.
Fortunately, tourism only accounts for about 10 percent of Thailand’s national annual GDP; and divers will still have access to a few of the sites around this particular beach. So hopefully, they have caught this matter early enough to make the necessary changes to restore what has been lost so that Koh Tachai will be available for generations to come