After more than a decade of political crisis and a shattered tourist industry, one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations is set to reopen its doors to visitors. The famous Songkhla Bay — which is now better known as the site of one of the most famous surf movies in movie history — has been closed since a 2009 deadly military coup amid a renewed debate on what its official name should be.
“The Thai government is currently trying to correct all the problems in the village, reopen the village,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the film’s director, told CNN this week. “It is not just about tourism, it is about what the government is trying to do in respect to the community.”
Weerasethakul is planning to reopen the beach — along with several other locations used in the movie — this October. The beach has been closed since 2009, when the military seized power.
In the movie, Matthew Broderick plays a 19-year-old travel writer whose life is tragically altered after being abandoned by his lover in Phuket — and then pushed off a cliff by the British military. Over the course of the film, Broderick loses himself in a group of lost teenagers, who live in a makeshift shack and fight frequently with the police.
Tourism is a significant foreign currency earner for Thailand, with last year’s projected visitors rising to over 23 million tourists. But the spot has historically been a controversial tourist attraction, with much of the tourist dollars going toward subsidizing the village, which lacks basic necessities such as electricity and running water. Almost 10 percent of the town’s vendors come from outside Thailand, as do a large number of the workers who run the restaurants and fish camps surrounding the beach.
Read the full story at CNN.
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