I was reading a recent BBC news article earlier today about the desperate situation at Maya Beach in Thailand. A once idyllic and flourishing beach that became littered and ecologically damaged due to it being a popular tourist destination. A huge increase in tourists was subsequent to the filming at Maya Beach of the feature film ‘The Beach’ during the mid 90’s. A huge conservation effort, including a total shutdown of the beach itself and the surrounding bay, has lead to the local ecology starting to recover. Yay!
But this got me thinking… (always dangerous..)
Perhaps the Maya Beach recovery is a sign that Thailand is turning a page in its effort to preserve its precious natural resources. But for a nation so dependent on tourists and their cash, it could also just be proof of how grim a situation has to get before enforced action to help the local biodiversity. The total area experiencing coral reef damage in Thailand has increased from 30% to 77% in just one decade! Staggering.
Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine scientist from Kasetsart University (who studied Maya Bay and the area for 40 years and was hired by the ministry to survey the environmental damage and lead the rehabilitation) blames polluted water (most often released by beachfront hotels) and plastic waste dumped into the ocean as the main causes of damage to coral reefs in this area.
Figure.1. This satellite image shows the huge conservation efforts put in place to save Maya Beach and the wildlife that inhabits there.
Globally, coral reef health is declining at an unprecedented rate and tourism plays its part in this. So in the spirit of this article, I feel it necessary to highlight the need for better responsible tourism at vulnerable habitat spots and I cant help but feel this boils down to three key things. Education, research and of course, funding.
Information source and BBC news article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/the_beach_nobody_can_touch