Thai authorities may close Maya Bay on the Phi Phi Islands between Krabi and Phuket for up to five years to allow coral restoration and beach recovery.
At the very least, the popular bay, which was closed to tourists in June last year, will not reopen for another two years.
Despite protests from tour operators local national park chiefs are determined to protect the area from overtourism. There are already plans in place to limit tour boats visiting the beach whenever it reopens.
A Kasetsart University marine biologist and member of the national park's committee said the closure extension was warranted because the department needed to not only protect the environment but also develop more facilities at Maya Bay, including a walking board, a dock for tourist boats and toilets.
At its peak Maya Bay was attracting more than 5,000 tourists per day.
Worapot Lomlim, chief of the Hat Nopparat Thara Phi Phi Islands national park, confirmed this week that he might keep Maya Bay closed for up to five years to allow the current recovery to continue.