Bangkok, May 16 (IANS) Thai authorities have decided to close down tourism in Tachai Island in the Andaman Sea, to protect the coral and underwater flora and fauna in one of the country’s key diving destinations, an official said on Monday.
“The island is closed for an indefinite time. Too many tourists have visited it. They have destroyed the ecology and corals of the island,” Efe news quoted the official as saying.
The island will no longer be accessible to tourists after October 15 and the committee managing Similan National Park will evaluate the situation to determine when the recovery period is over.
The measure, however, excludes two diving centres operating in the area, because deep sea diving has a minimal impact on the environment and tourists are educated not to damage nature, said the official.
The freshwater golden snail and the hermit crab that uses the snail’s shell for shelter are just two of the species that have been affected by tourism, according to the official.
“When it reopens, we plan to adopt more stringent measures” to control the volume of tourists, he said.
Although Tachai lacks hotel infrastructure and opened its doors to tourism in 2010, its landscape, beaches and location within the Similan National Park — about 620 km northwest of Phuket — have rapidly turned it into a tourist hotspot.
Thailand recorded 29.9 million tourists in 2015 and the numbers are expected to surge up to 35 million in 2016 if tourism continues its current pace, according to data from the Tourism Department.