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Paradise Overwhelmed? World’s #1 Beach Threatened by Visitor Surge – Sustainable Tourism to the Rescue!

The picturesque Koh Kradan in Trang province has recently experienced a surge in tourism, thanks to its recognition as the number one beach on Earth, according to the UK’s World Beach Guide. As a result, officials are now working to develop the island into a major tourist destination while preserving its stunning natural environment.

This month, daily arrivals on Koh Kradan increased from 300 to 2,000 on average, sparking hopes of a tourism revival after three years of COVID-19-related decline. However, concerns have also arisen that the small island, which covers only 2.4 square kilometers in the Andaman Sea, may suffer severe damage due to the sudden tourist influx.

Notably situated within Hat Chao Mai National Park, a mere 10 kilometers from the mainland, Koh Kradan boasts pristine white sands and vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. In light of the growing interest in the island, the governor has declared new sustainable tourism initiatives aimed at minimizing the impact on Koh Kradan’s environment.

A permanent management team will be formed under the authority of Hat Chao Mai National Park to oversee the preservation and management of the island. This team, headed by the park’s chief, will be responsible for regulating boat docking, diving activities, and waste management on Koh Kradan. Additionally, the team will ensure that diving and snorkeling zones are rotated to avoid damaging the fragile coral reefs. While no specific numbers were mentioned, the team will also manage the volume of tourists visiting the island.

An 8 million baht budget provided by the Andaman provinces will be allocated to construct a sustainable tourism center, which will offer visitors access to accommodation, dining, and other services. Local diving operators are contributing to this initiative by organizing underwater clean-up missions, inspecting coral reefs, and even attempting a world record feat that involves 700-800 expert divers.

It is important to note, however, that Hat Chao Mai National Park plans to close Koh Kradan and neighboring islands Kho Chuak, Koh Waen, and Koh Muk for four months of annual rehabilitation during the monsoon season, from June 1 to September 30. The tourism season will resume from October 1 to May 31.

Tourism operators in Trang province have submitted a request to the National Parks Department, asking that the islands remain open throughout the entire year. The outcome of this request remains to be seen, but the overall objective is clear: to transform Koh Kradan into an eco-friendly, sustainable tourist hotspot that maintains its status as a top global beach while safeguarding its unspoiled natural charm.

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