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.


Paris official seeks to outlaw Airbnb rentals in city center

Updated 06 September 2018
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Paris official seeks to outlaw Airbnb rentals in city center

  • With some 60,000 apartments on offer in the city, Paris is the biggest market for Airbnb
  • The administration of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has already taken action against Airbnb and others

PARIS: The Paris city council member in charge of housing said Thursday that he would propose outlawing home rentals via Airbnb and other websites in the city center, accusing the service of forcing residents out of the French capital.
Ian Brossat said that he would also seek to prohibit the purchase of secondary residences in Paris, saying such measures were necessary to keep the city from becoming an “open-air museum.”
“One residence out of every four no longer houses Parisians,” said Brossat, who is expected to head the Communist party list for European Parliament elections next year.
With some 60,000 apartments on offer in the city, Paris is the biggest market for Airbnb, which like other home-sharing platforms has come under increasing pressure from cities which claim it drives up rents for locals.
“Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?” he said.
Brossat has had Airbnb and its rivals in his sights for years, and recently published a book assailing the US giant titled “Airbnb, or the Uberised City.”
He wants to forbid any short-term tourist rentals of entire apartments in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Arrondissements of Paris, home to some of the world’s most popular sites including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Louvre museum.
“If we don’t do anything, there won’t be any more locals: Like on the Ile Saint-Louis, we’ll end up with a drop in the number of residents and food shops turned into clothing or souvenir stores,” he said, referring to the Seine island in the shadow of the Notre-Dame cathedral.
“We’ll be living in an open-air museum,” he added.
Brossat hopes the measures will be included in a law aimed at overhauling France’s real estate laws to be debated this fall.
The administration of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has already taken action against Airbnb and others, requiring homeowners to register with the city and limiting the number of rentals to 120 nights a year.
Last month the city said the total amount of fines levied against home rental platforms rose to €1.38 million ($1.60 million) from January to August 15, compared with €1.3 million for 2017 as a whole.
Its crackdown echoes those in other hot tourist destinations including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin.
Last month Airbnb sued the city of New York after it passed a law forcing home-sharing platforms to disclose data about their hosts, calling it a campaign “funded by the city’s powerful hotel lobby.”