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Thailand Decides to Close Popular Island Being Trampled by Tourists

Thailand has decided to close one of its popular tourist islands, citing environmental and conservation concerns.

Koh Tachai is a small island characterized by white beaches, colorful coral reefs and dense jungle.

Located within Similan National Park in Phangnga Province, the island has been overrun by tourists in recent years, resulting in the degradation of its natural beauty, reports The Bangkok Post.

Tunya Netithammakul, director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, told the newspaper that the island would be off-limits to tourists starting on October 15. Though all marine national parks in Thailand are closed until that date for monsoon season, Koh Tachi will stay closed after it passes.

"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," Netithammakul told the Post.

Despite the announcement, Assistant Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries of Kasetsart University, told The Bangkok Post that 14 tour companies are still offering tour packages to the island.

"In fact, Koh Tachai is preserved as a primitive zone, not a tourist site," Thamrongnawasawat told the news outlet. "A beach on the island can hold up to 70 people. But sometimes the number of tourists was well over 1,000 on the beach, which was already crowded with food stalls and tour boats. This caused the island to quickly deteriorate. If it's not closed now, we'll lose Koh Tachai permanently." 

[Photo via Flickr user Tore Bustad]


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