Thailand, one of the most visited countries in the world due to its spectacular tropical beaches, has banned sunscreens containing chemicals that damage coral from all of its marine national parks
Sunscreen is usually considered an essential accessory for travelers visiting the country due to its high temperatures and beach-based activities that helped put it on the map. There has been growing concern that the sun protection lotions used by tourists are harming slow-growing corals.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that the measure, which came into effect on Wednesday, was aimed at protecting the country’s coasts from products that “deteriorate coral reefs, destroy larvae, obstruct their reproductive system and cause coral bleaching.”
Sunscreen Ban: What travelers need to know
According to recent reports, a proposal banning the use of certain sunscreens at national parks in Thailand has been announced in the Thai royal gazette, an act resulting in the proposal becoming law. The law, however, focuses more on targeting specific types of sunscreen that contain certain chemicals that are deemed harmful to coral, rather than outright banning the use of sunscreens at national parks.
Among the most important parts of the sea ecosystem, coral can be damaged if it is exposed to certain chemicals for a long time.
The banned lotions are those containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, or butylparaben. The ban is hoped to slow down the damage caused to the coral, which can take years to reverse.
These chemicals are regularly found in sunscreen products, including many off-the-shelf brands sold in the country. The new law prohibits sunscreen products containing these chemicals. The ban is hoped to slow down the damage caused to the coral, which can take years to reverse.
The Traveler’s Guide to Thailand
Even if conditions in Thailand take a turn for the worse, many travelers still find Thailand an attractive option, and it is still possible to visit – but some steps need to be taken. Vaccinated travelers can enter the country through the sandbox scheme in either Phuket or Koh Samui, which allows them to enter without requiring them to stay in a quarantine hotel – though their movement is restricted for up to two weeks.
Bangkok is also a possible entry point, but travelers entering there would need to spend 14 nights in quarantine facilities, and the city is currently under lockdown. You can find more information on this process here.
A similar ban has been instituted by the Pacific island of Palau and the US state of Hawaii.
The Thai government is attempting, with this action, to protect its corals from tourism.
Maya Bay, on the island of Phi Phi Leh – made famous by its appearance in the film The Beach – has been closed since 2018 after most of its coral was destroyed.