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Tea Leaves

Could COVID-19 save Thailand's tourist-ravaged coast?

Lessons from Railay pit post-pandemic environmental resurgence against tourism imperative

Once overflowing with the tourists, a beach on Thailand's renowned Railay Peninsula takes a rest as COVID-19 keeps most visitors away. (Photo by Sarah McLean) 

On a recent morning, with hardly another soul to crease the sands, and only the lapping of gentle waves to ruffle the stillness, I experienced a serious case of deja vu on Thailand's Railay Peninsula, the site of some of the world's most beautiful beaches.

This, I remembered, was what I had encountered during my trips to the Railay area decades earlier, before mass tourism overwhelmed its sweeping arcs of sand walled by towering limestone cliffs. It is sad to say, but the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has restored some of what that tide of humanity degraded.

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