The Thailand Aviation Authority has decided to impose a set of rules on tourists on the Mai Khao beach in Phuket, which goes against clicking selfies with airplanes. By Ishani Singh

The Mai Khao beach is a popular tourist attraction, which features a selfie runway. Due to its proximity to the Phuket International airport, taking sandy selfies with low-lying incoming planes is a popular trend among visitors since it gives an illusion of them touching the aircraft as it prepares to land.

If you search Instagram using the #maikhaobeach hashtag, the results will show more than 20,000 images of people posing with aircrafts on the beach. This selfie-mania has become infamous among airplane pilots who claim to get distracted owing to the disturbing act.

Authorities have decided to implement a ban on this trend to prevent tourists from clicking selfies at the 9 km exclusion area on the beach. The safety zone will be a strictly prohibited area, which will not be open to any tourist or visitor and defaulters indulging in the illegal act will have to pay a hefty fine or serve capital punishment under the Air Navigation Act. Adding to the problem, some tourists have also been flying drones and shining flashlights at planes, which has often led to cancellation of flights in the past.

According to Vijit Kaewsaiteam, Vice President of Phuket International Airport, the ban is important to prevent pilots from getting distracted and for the safety of tourists. He cited drone photography and bright lights that astonished pilots at night as potential risks to flying.

For most locals, a decision to close the entire section would lead to an adverse effect on tourism and also make a negative impact on their livelihood but according to officials, the ban is necessary to avoid future inconvenience.

The laws in Thailand in relation to airplane safety are pretty strict with harsh penalties for defaulters. The punishment for jeopardising an aircraft is between five years to a life-term in prison, or for repeated offenders, death.

Related: Here’s Why You Should Go Sailing On A Private Yacht In Phuket