Maya Bay, the scenic spot in Thailand that featured in the popular 2000 film The Beach has announced that it will remain closed until 2021 to allow the beach's wildlife to return to healthy levels.

Located on the island of Phi Phi Leh, the azure bay had temporarily closed last year after it was found that in less than 20 years after serving as the setting for the Danny Boyle film that starred Leonardo DiCaprio, the environment was severely damaged. 

Before closing last year, up to 5,000 tourists were flocking to the bay every day to snap their photos of paradise, recreate key scenes and no doubt take the same photo for Instagram as thousands of other people. This put strain on its delicate ecology and leading to a loss of the majority of its vibrant coral. 

The hashtag #mayabay currently has 372,748 posts on Instagram. 

Thankfully, there have been signs of improvement since the closure, with blacktip reef sharks spotting swimming in the bay recently. 

However, once the spot reopens there will be restrictions in place, as Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat - a marine biologist who advises the Thai department of national parks - told the BBC in January that the number of visitors will be reduced and boats will be banned from mooring within the bay's waters. 

While Leo swam his way to the beach, black bag tied around his waist, tourists today access the tropical spot by boat, which will now not be allowed to land or drop anchor in the bay. 

Speaking to The Phuket News last August, Thamrongnawasawat said: "Everything we have done for the coral today is like an ‘apology’ for being late in protecting them. Also, we were too scared and negative to have thought of saving them.

Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Beach'. Photo: Getty

"We gave our promise that we won’t go back again. There will be no boats at Maya Bay again. All coral will be able to grow up in clear water. Then we will have paradise back."

The move has triggered outcries from those working in tourism in the area, who for almost two decades have depended on the Hollywood connection to the beach. 

Wattana Rerngsamut, the head of the local tourism association, told AFP that there should be public meetings on the matter "so that local people can earn a living".