South-east Asian idylls – from Philippine islands to the Thai bay made famous in The Beach – plan to turn tourists away so that devastated coral reefs have some time to recover. Will it be enough?
Our Thai tour guide, Spicey, takes a drag on her cigarette and gestures sadly towards the beach. “The problem with people is that they are too greedy. They see a beautiful place and they want it. They take, take, take from nature. And then they destroy it.”
The golden sands of Maya Bay where Spicey stands are some of the most famous in the world. This once-idyllic cove, on the tiny Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, was the paradise location of The Beach, Danny Boyle’s 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was then pushed by tourism officials in advertising campaigns to entice more wealthy visitors to Thailand.