Once a secret beach paradise attracting only few privileged tropical seekers in the know, Koh Tachai island has become too popular for its own good.
The southern Thailand island, the main gem in the world-renowned Similan group of islands, will be closed to visitors indefinitely from this week.
Alarmed by the damage to the natural beauty of the island wrought by marauding hordes of tourists over the years, park authorities have ordered a shutdown to prevent a further environmental degradation, officials told the media.
"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," official Tunya Netithammakul told The Bangkok Post.
The island's shoreline, beaches and coral reefs around it will be off-limits to all visitors.Related: Thai committee wants 32 dive sites closed because of coral bleaching
More than 1,000 people on the beachAlmost all marine national parks in the kingdom will close to tourists from mid-May to mid-October because of the monsoon season. But Tachai will not reopen till the authorities are satisfied with its recovery.
In TripAdvisor travel booking website, the island is touted as the No.1 attraction in the Similan marine park. After its closure, two deep dive sites nearby will still remain open to visitors.
On the overcrowding on Tachai, Asst Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries of Kasetsart University, who spoke at a recent fair organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: "In fact, Koh Tachai is preserved as a primitive zone, not a tourist site. 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."
Looks like it's Tachai's turn for a much needed R & R.firstname.lastname@example.org