The Chairman of Krabi Tourism Industry Council has shared his concerns about the plans to install new piers and landing facilities at Phi Phi Loh Sama Bay next to Koh Phi Phi Ley after being made aware that the Department of National Parks had the initiative to build a pier so tourist can travel by foot to Loh Samah Bay area behind Maya Bay.
Currently Maya Bay remains closed to all visitors and access confined to boats passing by the entrance to the bay for a photo opportunity. The bay previously attracted up to 6,000 people per day at the height of its popularity before authorities closed down access in June 2018.
The planned new rigid pier which will be constructed at Loh Samah Bay will incorporate a ramp elevating over the cliffs at Loh Samah Bay. This ramp will lead directly out onto a boardwalk through to a viewing platform looking out over Maya Bay Beach. Regarded as genius solution to reopen the way without giving tourist access to the beach. The new ramp will eliminate the need to climb the cargo net currently in place and will allow access to the bay without the need for boats to drop anchors on the corals. However the plans are concering conservation experts that regard these plans as impacting heavily on the pristine dive site of Loh Sama Bay that has an abundance of marine life that could be obliterated.
The Maya Bay pier will provide a mooring spot for speedboats and longtail boats in order to further preserve the coral in the bay. The new pier is expected to have the capacity to dock a maximum of eight boats at a time. In a bid to cut down on visitor numbers and aid ongoing preservation attempts.
The idea of the floating piers at Loh Sama Bay would allow tourists to disembark then walk from the rear of the island across raised boardwalks to arrive on the back of the beach. In the past tourists had arrived on boat and jumped ashore with the boats waiting either along the shore or anchoring in the bay.
Maya Bay was made famous in the 2000 movie “The Beach” with Leonardo diCaprio.
Even though Koh Phi Phi Ley, the smaller of the two Phi Phi islands, is in the Krabi province, most tourists accessed the island group from Phuket by either speed boat or scheduled ferry.
The Chairman says… “I am concerned about the impact on nature and the environment, where Loh Sama Bay is a dive site that consists of both shallow and deep corals, complete with beautiful, diverse species including soft corals, hard corals, sea anemones. Previously, tourists have consistently come to dive and inspect the beauty of coral reefs there.”
A Koh Phi Phi conservation group consisting of tour operators and local villagers have also previously submitted a proposal to the Department of National Parks voicing their concerns about the construction of the new infrastructure.
Pankham Kittithornkul, Chief of Ao Nang sub-district, says that he and local villagers have come to a conclusion to proceed with the construction to service Maya Bay with the exception during low season, closing the famous bay for nature to recover.
The Department of National Parks has closed off the area to preserve the wide life but there is no news of the reopening of the bay, causing local people to lose revenue.”
With such a high demand to visit the iconic beach, it has been predicted that entry fees will increase. At the time when Maya Bay closed, the Marine Park fee was set at 400 THB for every foreign visitor, (40 Thai Baht for Thai visitors) a mandatory fee which also included entry to Bamboo Island (Koh Phai).
Entry fees for the beach are predicted to double to 800 baht a person (around 25USD), in a bid to reduce demand and preserve the bay. While 800 baht might not sound like a lot, the higher charge will certainly be off-putting for tourists may encourage tour operators to take their customers to other beaches instead. Thus reducing the strain to Ao Maya.