Once-pristine Thai bay from ‘The Beach’ to close to boats

Above, traditional long-tail boats used to ferry tourists are moored at a beach on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi in southern Thailand. The picture-postcard beach of the Leonardo DiCaprio film will be closed to boats from June to September this year. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Once-pristine Thai bay from ‘The Beach’ to close to boats

BANGKOK: The once-pristine Thai bay which became a tourist magnet after the 2000 movie “The Beach” will be closed to boats for several months to prevent further damage to its coral, an official said Wednesday.
Hordes of tourists flock daily to Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Ley for selfies in front of the famed limestone cliffs and blue waters, leading to complaints of environmental damage to the water and sand.
But the picture-postcard beach of the Leonardo DiCaprio film will be closed to boats from June to September this year, Worapoj Lomlim of the Phi Phi islands National Parks said.
“For around 20 years the bay has welcomed boats to moor in front of the beach... but their engines have damaged coral reefs and caused problems with the sand,” he said.
“Overcrowded tourist boats have also blocked the view,” he added, saying tourists will still be able to reach the beach by foot from an adjacent bay where boats can park.
The closure is the latest effort to mitigate damage caused by tourism, a crucial pillar of Thailand’s economy with more than 35 million travelers visiting last year.
But environmental experts and officials are worried the mass tourism is causing irreversible damage to idyllic beaches, with litter and unchecked development disrupting local ecosystems.
Smoking has already been banned on 20 of the country’s most famous beaches this high season, with a hefty fine or even jail for those who flout the new rule.


Al-Ahsa named 2019 Arab Tourism Capital

Al-Ahsa has a long history and a rich heritage dating back to the 5th millennium BC. It tells great stories as one of the most important places inhabited by human civilizations. (Photos/SPA)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Al-Ahsa named 2019 Arab Tourism Capital

  • Al-Ahsa has a long history and a rich heritage dating back to the 5th millennium BC
  • Experts believe the move will help turn the area into a region of unique beauty

JEDDAH: Officials in Al-Ahsa congratulated King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the city was named Arab Tourism Capital for 2019 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism on Wednesday.
The decision confirms that Al-Ahsa fulfilled all the terms of reference set by the Arab League’s Arab Tourism Organization. Al-Ahsa officials said the decision is recognition of the city’s success in tourism, its historical and cultural value, and its archaeological sites. Al-Ahsa Mayor Adel Al-Mulhim thanked the king and crown prince for supporting efforts to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia. Al-Mulhim also thanked Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), for his attention to tourism and heritage in the Kingdom.  Al-Mulhim hailed the support given by Prince Saud bin Nayef, governor of the Eastern Province, and by Prince Badr bin Mohammed bin Jalawi, governor of Al-Ahsa, to the city’s heritage. The council’s decision will contribute to preserving and investing in tourism in Al-Ahsa, Al-Mulhim said. The city is considered a world leader in handicrafts and folk art.

Partnership
Its secretariat continues to do its utmost to develop tourism through a strong partnership with the SCTH and cooperation with relevant government agencies, Al-Mulhim added. “Al-Ahsa has a long history and a rich heritage dating back to the 5th millennium BC. It tells great stories as one of the most important places inhabited by human civilizations, and it will remain a constantly evolving cultural and civilizational painting that shares with the world a history full of authentic heritage,” he said.
Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Fereidah, general manager of the SCTH branch in Al-Ahsa, said the city would not have been named Arab Tourism Capital if not for the great support and care of King Salman’s government. “Al-Ahsa has received great care and attention from the leadership, allowing it to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” Al-Fereidah added.
Its designation as the Arab Tourism Capital “will boost the tourism industry in the Kingdom,” he said.

Support
Tourism to Al-Ahsa Oasis is progressing at a fast pace due to the support of the country’s leaders, he added.
Al-Fereidah congratulated the people of Al-Ahsa and Saudi Arabia on this happy occasion, saying the city houses natural, archaeological and cultural treasures that attract tourists and heritage enthusiasts. Dr. Fuad bin Ahmad Al-Asheikh Mubarak, head of the General Establishment for Irrigation in Al-Ahsa, said: “The cultural heritage and great tourism components in Al-Ahsa stretch to thousands of years.”
The city “will see the implementation of major projects and services that meet everyone’s aspirations,” he added.
The director general of the Al-Ahsa branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Khalid bin Saad Al-Husseini, said naming the city as the Arab Tourism Capital reflects its competitiveness in Arab tourism. “Al-Ahsa is a continuously evolving oasis with beautiful nature, deep history, human culture and source of sustainability,” he added. “Al-Ahsa looks forward to further development, which we should achieve with our ideas… and by preserving it and enhancing its beauty to meet the aspirations of our leadership.”
Having Al-Ahsa chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital is a national achievement that bears many responsibilities and requires increased efforts to turn it into a city of unique beauty, Al-Husseini said.