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Thai tropical paradise finds opportunity in adversity

Pandemic forces tourism rethink in popular island resort

A deserted beach at Nai Wok, on the west coast of the Thai resort island of Koh Phangan. (Photo by Tom Vater)

KOH PHANGAN, Thailand -- In the late afternoon sun, a long line of sandals snakes down the beachfront road in Thong Sala, the main town on Koh Phangan, a tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand famed for its scenic settings and laid-back beach life.

Visited by 1 million travelers in 2019, Koh Phangan's primary draw has long been its monthly Full Moon Party, which attracts between 10,000 and 30,000 young revelers a month from around the world to Haad Rin Beach in the southeast corner of the island.

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