Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
May 26, 2016

Three more of Thailand’s most stunning islands are being shut down as a result of “excessive tourism,” Global News reported this morning.

The Thai government, in an effort to save the idyllic white sand beaches and endangered coral reefs, has closed Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui, and Koh Khai Nai to all visitors.

According to reports, beaches that can comfortably accommodate 70 people have been swarming with as many as 1,000 tourists at a time. Sun chairs, umbrellas, food stalls, and tour boats have overcrowded the islands, leading to “the degradation of natural resources and the environment.” Boat anchors, swimmers, and snorkelers have destroyed as much as 80 percent of the area’s reefs.

Less than two weeks ago, authorities announced that the island of Koh Tachai would be shut down indefinitely beginning October 15.

While Thailand has no shortage of incredible beaches, and some of the more remote islands still offer travelers a sense of solitude.

But the closure of these four beloved Thai islands is a warning to all to treat these fragile ecosystems with reverence. After all, it’s not the first important destination to limit or refuse tourists. Cinque Terre—the picturesque Italian villages perched over the Mediterranean Sea—has already announced plans to control the flow of visitors.  

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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