Tourist boats could be banned from entering the world famous bay where the blockbuster film The Beach was set.
Thai officials are considering enforcing the restriction in Maya Bay between June and September to protect the reef.
Up to 5,000 people a day visit the small stretch of sand on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, arriving on hundreds of boats which have damaged the delicate coral.
Tour guide Adam Gardener has lived and worked in the area for three years and says some tourists and operators don’t respect the environment.
He told Sky News: “They throw full on trash bags off the boats here sometimes, they bring the boats right in regardless if the boats are knocking corals and destroying everything. There’s just not a lot of respect for Koh Phi Phi anymore.”
The powder white sands and crystal waters are some of the most famous in the world after being used as the backdrop for Danny Boyle’s 2000 film The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Its popularity over the last 18 years has taken its toll on the environment with reports up to 80% of the coral in the bay has died.
Some has been destroyed by anchors being dropped on it, people standing on it and pollution from sun cream and gasoline.
Tourism is vital to the local economy, more than two million people visited the Koh Phi Phi National Park last year generating millions of pounds.
Every visitor who steps on the beach is charged an entrance fee of 400 Thai baht (£10).
The President of Phi Phi Tourist Association, Watrapol Jantharo, rejected reports that the beach will be totally closed, instead telling Sky News that tourists would have to access it from the other side of the island.
Local conservationist and diver Andrew Hewett supports the plan to restrict access but said the area would need regular breaks if it was to recover.
His team have been growing and replanting coral a few minutes from Maya Bay where the water is now teaming with life.
He warned it was important to ensure the environment at the alternative entrance wasn’t also damaged.
“My concern is with the amount of boats in Maya Bay right now is whether there’s going to be enough room in this particular bay for that many the boats,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Thai authorities have restricted access to areas being damaged by tourism.
In 2016, Koh Tachai, an island in the famous Similan national park in southwest Thailand, was closed for an “indefinite period”.
Marine experts from Bangkok are due to visit Maya Bay in the coming days before a final decision is announced.
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