Bangkok: A Thai bay that was made iconic by its appearance in the 2000 Hollywood film "The Beach" will remain closed until 2021 since a sharp rise in visitors had severely damaged the environment.

Maya Bay, on the island of Phi Phi Leh, was temporarily closed last year, the BBC reported on Friday.

Before it closed, up to 5,000 people were visiting the bay every day and most of its coral died as a result.

Authorities have now extended the ban on visitors by two years to give more time for Maya Bay's ecology to recover.

Since the bay closed last year, blacktip reef sharks have been sighted swimming in the waters of the bay.

Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, who advises the Thai department of national parks, had told the BBC in January that when the park reopens the number of visitors will be restricted and boats will be banned from mooring within the bay's waters. (IANS)

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