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'the Beach' Bounces Back

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'The Beach' bounces back

December 27, 2005, 11:30

Even as the mourners were placing flowers on the beach in memory of loved ones lost in the tsunami, Koh Phi Phi was welcoming fresh boatloads of its lifeblood - tourists.

A year ago, in the immediate aftermath of the December 26 disaster, the Thai island famed as the backdrop to cult backpacker movie "The Beach" was written off as "Paradise Lost".

Around 700 people had been killed and most of the tiny, jungle-clad outcrop's homes, guesthouses and businesses still lay in ruins.

Rebuilding of the island

This week, as hundreds of relatives gathered from across the globe to mourn the victims of the killer waves, the rejuvenated holiday playground hardly skipped a beat.

With little or no government help, the revival of the island is mainly due to local Thai and foreign business owners and an army of foreign volunteer workers anxious that Phi Phi should not be allowed to disappear.

"Even when it was completely trashed, I thought 'It is still a beautiful island, so people will come back', although I have to admit I was looking more at two years," said Steve Goff, British dive shop owner.

Reconstruction delays

"It's great to see it now but it's no thanks to the government," he added. Like many locals, he still believes top officials far away in Bangkok are conspiring to annex the entire island and turn it into a luxury $1000-a-night hideaway.

The government says reconstruction delays are due to the need for a comprehensive zoning plan for the island.

- Reuters

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