Rokka Dao beach opening has Thai critics lining up

Image copyright Reuters Image caption ‘Rokka Dao’ is the most visited national park on the south-east Asian island of Phuket

A Thai beach made famous by the film The Beach is set to be opened to the public.

Critics slammed the culture ministry’s decision to close the popular island of Rokka Dao because it had become too expensive to keep clean.

Officials say the beach will reopen in August but have set a cap of about 5,000 visitors a day.

Some 700,000 tourists visited Rokka Dao in the last financial year.

The influential Thai magazine Thalang ranked the island 10th in its list of top 500 countries, ahead of places like France and Japan.

Rokka Dao was first used in 2001 in the film The Beach – a film which was made by Australian filmmaker Adrian Lyne.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Director Adrian Lyne gave the famed beach to Thailand after he was asked to withvert.

The 2004 drama showed an English man, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, visiting Thailand after the death of his girlfriend and trying to find happiness.

Many interpreted the movie as a cynical portrayal of the Thai resort of Phuket, with some claiming that it glorified reckless lifestyle.

But the name “The Beach” has become a badge of honour for Phuket, drawing big crowds every year.

The beach has now been handed over to the army and the culture ministry.

Phuket governor Somkiat Samaon told the Associated Press news agency that he hoped the beach would be kept clean “as a pride to the province”.

Rokka Dao will be spread across four beaches, measuring less than 4km (2.5 miles) each.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Laude has been visited by locals and tourists alike and learned the local language

What does Rokka Dao mean?

Rokka Dao is the island’s name, according to data provided by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

A local family called in the customs of its popular home, from the use of products like cheese to the meaning of its coloured coin.

The beach also has a Hindu meaning, ‘goodness’, to match the Daoism religion at Rokkam Teerawat village in the province of Phang Nga, where the beach is located.

Do tourists really pay the beach fees?

Thais have long asked why tourists pay for visiting a national park.

What will tourists be expected to pay at Rokka Dao?

No-one has confirmed what is going to be charged for visiting the beach, nor have they said who will be paying the fees.

But Tourism Authority of Thailand marketing director Mervyn Wong said the island will not look like it did in the film.

He said visitors will still be able to have fun at the beach.

“It’s not like the beach will be segregated, like in the film,” he said.

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