Sad news for tourists who love to spend holidays on the tranquil islands off the coast of Phuket! Thai officials have decided to close down the Koh Khai islands – Koh Khai Nai, Koh Khai Nui, and Koh Khai Nok – for an indefinite period.
The Thai authorities are afraid that the local environment is on the brink of destruction due to the gathering of excessive number of tourists. They have forbidden guides and tourist operators to run their operations there and ordered the removal of all the touristic facilities. The islands are popular destinations for speed boating and snorkelling and nearly 4,000 tourists visit them each day.
The decision came just weeks after the announcement of shutting down another popular holiday destination, Koh Tachai. Koh Tachai has coral reefs, pristine beaches, and is considered as the most beautiful island in the country.
Image Courtesy: Phuket
The Phuket Marine Biology Centre has recently published a report warning that the growing infrastructure and various touristic activities had damaged the natural environment of the islands.
Watcharin Na Thalang, the regional chief of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said that every tour group spends a couple of hours in the islands and does snorkelling, speed boating, and swimming in the water that destroys the marine ecosystem. In fact, the report states that nearly 80% of the coral reefs had already been damaged. Mr Watcharin said that all the human activities that had been damaging the ecosystem must be stopped.
The authorities apparently took the decision of shutting down those destinations after the report had been published. Mr Watcharin requested Phuket and Phang Nga guides and tour operators to understand the situation and promote eco-friendly tourism.
Image Courtesy: Phuket Free Day
The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources will now specify the tourist-prohibited areas and set routes for tour boats.
Well, Thailand is not the first country to close down tourist destinations in fear of destruction by humans. Two other spots where restrictions on tourists have been put are NSW’s Wedding Cake Rock and Paris’ famous lovelock bridge.