Due to an excess of tourism, the government of Thailand has decided to close three of its most spectacular islands to visitors. This resolution has been added to a previous measure which, a few weeks ago, determined the indefinite closure of the island of Koh Tachai for the same reasons. This is not the first time that these kinds of actions have been taken for the same cause. Similar measures have been taken or considered in other heavily-travelled tourist destinations. For instance, Cinque Terre in Italy, a popular trekking site, has also declared its intentions to restrict the entrance of tourists.
The three Thai islands that are being closed are Koh Khai Nai, Koh Khai Nok and Koh Khai Nui. Apparently, the decision has been taken in order to protect the environment, as the authorities are obligated to preserve their country’s natural resources. These three islands have important beach zones with vital ecosystems to protect, such as coral reefs. On some occasions up to 1,000 tourists have been allowed to enter and visit the islands even when the official capacity of their beaches are capped at 70 people. This has resulted in insufficiency of space, causing an excess of boats and people in areas with important natural resources. The direst consequence has been the damage and degradation of around 80% of the coral reefs in the area.
Thailand is known for its spectacular beaches with white sands and crystalline waters, and fortunately, the country holds many more places with such beaches to enjoy. However, it is important to raise awareness of the danger that lies in a lack of protection for natural resources and the delicate ecosystem of such a beautiful destination.
The ideal solution would be to prevent the degradation of natural resources by limiting tourism pre-emptively rather than banning it. But since it is not always so, it is important as a traveller to be conscious of the damage that can be caused to fragile ecosystems, and to be caring and gentle with the environment that so warmly welcomes us.