Thailand Is Closing Its Most Beautiful Island

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Thailand’s Koh Tachai, known for its clear-blue waters, white beaches and snorkeling opportunities, has been named the country’s most beautiful island as recently as last year. Travellers looking to book a trip to the paradise-like vacation spot may have missed their chance though, as Thailand announced earlier this week that it plans to close the island to tourists indefinitely.

The Thai government cited tourism as the cause for the Koh Tachai’s closing, as the island’s popularity had resulted in an unsustainable number of visitors heading there each year, thus harming its environment. Tunya Netithammakul, director of Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation told the Bangkok Post that increasing tourism “has resulted in overcrowding and the degradation of natural resources and the environment.”

Apparently, the Koh Tachai’s beaches could only truly accommodate around 70 visitors at a time, even though up to 1,000 visitors have occupied the island at a time in recent years. Tourists will officially be prohibited from visiting the island starting Oct. 15 of this year.

Koh Tachai is just the latest part of a much larger trend in which beautiful locations are being destroyed due to their beauty. The argument over tourism’s effect on the environment — with popular vacation destinations such as Cozumel, Mexico, the Galapagos Islands and Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands standing as major examples — has existed for years.

It remains to be seen if Koh Tachai will ever reopen to the public, and what sort of regulations may exist if tourists are ever allowed back. In the meantime, the debate over the negative effects of travel and overcrowding will continue to play out in vacation destinations around the world.

Dillon Thompson is a travel intern with Paste and a student at the University of Georgia.

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