However, government intervention when applied appropriately can be incredibly effective. For Boracay, the Philippines president ordered the closure of the island for six months from April 2018, to reverse the damage. When it reopened, daily tourist arrival numbers was capped at 6,000 while the total number of people staying on the island at any one time could not exceed 19,000. Single-use plastics were also banned on the island.
Likewise in Thailand's Maya Bay, which rose to fame thanks to the movie, The Beach in 2000, is another place in Southeast Asia that has suffered from overtourism. With 5,000 tourists moving about and swimming in its beaches every day, the corals started to die, and the whole marine ecosystem was on the brink of collapse. The Thai government then intervened and called for Maya Bay to be closed to tourism from 2018 until mid-2021. Projects for coral propagation commenced. When it reopens again, the daily tourist numbers allowed would be capped at 2,400 per day. This would hopefully give the marine ecosystems a chance to be restored.
Island closure is just one of many solutions in combating overtourism. In Bhutan, a tax is imposed to manage and ensure sustainable tourism. In order to visit Bhutan, tourists have to commit to paying a mandatory flat fee of between USD200 to USD250 first, depending on the season. Bhutan imposes the highest travel tax in the world, but this comes with good quality accommodation and guides. This ensures that tourists are given a valuable and meaningful experience, while also maintaining a low impact on the culture and landscape of the country. Bhutan’s success with the tourism tax has inspired other countries to follow suit.
Another feasible solution to combating overtourism is through ground-up initiatives However, this requires the active involvement of various stakeholders. In Donsol, Philippines, snorkelling with whale sharks is a popular activity. Locally-run conservation efforts and research undergirds sustainable tourism in this instance. The Large Marine Vertebrates Institute (LAMAVE) is a local-run conservation group based in the Philippines. They work with other international NGOs and the local fishermen to help control the whale shark interactions with strict regulations. These regulations include limiting the tourists’ distance from the sharks, and limiting the number of tourist boats per each shark. Lamave also carries out research on the whale sharks through photo identification tracking to better understand the local population for tourism management purposes.