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Bali divers depart: A Russian about to enter the water in the Similans

Chinese, Russians Move In, Dive Business Lost

Friday, August 24, 2012
PHUKET: Similan Islands authorities will meet Phuket diving and snorkelling tour operators later this month to discuss marine park fee increases, garbage disposal and protection from mass tourism.

Increases in fees across all 29 national parks in Thailand will mean a small increase in fees for overseas visitors to the Similan Islands and Surin Island, from 400 baht to 500 baht (Thais will pay 100 baht).

The increase in land-based parks will be considerably greater, from 200 baht to 500 baht, with Thais paying 100 baht - up from 40 baht.

The Director of the Similan islands National Park, Mana Permpoon, told Phuketwan today that much of the diving business at the Similans has now moved to Bali.

Russian and Chinese snorkellers had replaced the divers, he said, putting the reefs at greater risk from damage.

''The quality of boats and the wearing of life jackets needs to be checked more frequently now,'' he said.

''The reefs have recovered from the coral bleaching phenomenon of two years ago, but the danger now is damage from tourists.''

Two meetings have been called by Khun Mana in Khao Lak, north of Phuket, for snorkelling operators on August 29 and dive operators on August 30.

Khun Mana said he hoped to make the point that all garbage needed to be carried away with boats, that fuel leaks had to be prevented, and that snorkellers should not stand on reefs.

''Because some of the snorkellers have no experience, they sometimes don't understand that they cannot take pieces of coral as souvenirs,'' he said.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation says some national parks are suffering from too many tourists and the new fees will be a deterrent to help fight environmental deterioration.

Some of the Similan islands are open to tourists from November to April and closed the rest of the year to allow them to recover.

Other islands are kept in natural condition, with one home to a turtle sanctuary.

Rohingya boatpeople have been contained briefly on some Similan beaches in the past so arresting Thai Navy officers can check whether they are armed.

In a policy change, the Navy now ''helps on'' the would-be refugees rather than apprehending them.

Comments

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All dive and tour operators will accept the entry fee increases if the money is for set up Ranger Patrol Units with all-weather fast boat to arrest fraudsters and poachers but if it is just to grab easy money to build new roads in Bangkok, most of them will disagree to that illegetimate increases.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 24, 2012 17:45

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Ahhh - its those naughty tourists causing all the problems again- send them to Bali. Oops, they've already gone!

Posted by Mister Ree on August 24, 2012 17:49

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From pros to amateurs in one year.

Posted by Paul on August 24, 2012 17:58

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It is absolutely wrong ( not to say bull ) that Phuket's dive busines moved to Bali, as Bali isn't a real diver's destination, though there a numerous Dive Centers.

Diving around takes place in the remote parts of the island where there is little infrastructure only. Dive Centers on Bali actually can handle only a fragment of the number of divers Phuket's dive shops can deal with.

However, it is true that quite a number of divers, once coming to Thailand, moved on to other destinations, for various reasons, of which one could be the alredy now hilarious Marine Park Fee of THB 400 + THB 200 for divers.
Increasing this fee would be another nail to the coffin.

It is not the chinese or russian visitor who should be blamed, but the irresponsible operator, who takes these people out, without instructions and not supervising them in a professional way. 30 snorkelers with one "guide" is not unusual, obviously there's no control possible.

Once again it looks like that decisions are going to be taken by people, who have no clue at all, and this isn't Mr. Mana, but his superiors.

Posted by Resident on August 24, 2012 18:09

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We have over 60% of Similan Islands (Koh Huyong, Koh Payang, Koh Payan, Fantasy Reef and Beacon reef) and 90% of Surin Islands (2 dive sites only) coastal areas which are closed by DNP and it would be good they open them for the coming season in order to have less divers and snorkelers on very few dive sites as previous years.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 24, 2012 18:37

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"a small increase in fees for overseas visitors to the Similan Islands and Surin Island, from 400 baht to 500 baht (Thais will pay 100 baht)."
Indeed, only a small 20% increase. And about 500% of the Thai price.
The question is: Where is all this money gone, that got collected in the last years? Will they start collecting it BEFORE the departure (Changing the law "has to be collected in the park"), so that the 'interested parties' can't cheat on that, anymore? What will be done, with the moey in the future. I mean, to protect the parks, not to create nicer car parks!

Posted by ??? on August 24, 2012 19:18

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Oops divers moving to better sites lets put the price up, genius, did they think (sorry stupid mistake) it will turn more away?

Posted by Anonymous on August 24, 2012 21:03

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Forgetting the Similans for a moment, who's going to pay 500 Baht to sit on a litter strewn Nai Yang beach, or visit a couple of shoddy, unkept waterfalls, when there are free alternatives?

Posted by agogohome on August 24, 2012 22:56

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You understand WHY foriener pay 5 times Thai price because foriener cuase a lot more damage to diving sites that Thai. Foriener always throwing rubbish in the sea. Foriener always taking things (shells, corals) from the sea for suvenir to take home. Thais respect the nature and don't throw rubbish everywhere. That's why is OK for foriener to charge 5 times more than Thai price.

Posted by Suwarn on August 25, 2012 08:14

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@ Suwarn: Next time you are in Rawei, go look at the Shell Museum (sic) shop & along the beach front. I don't see farangs selling shells & other marine souvenirs. I have often wondered where all this comes from? Is it fake copy, imported, or stolen from the sea by Thais? As for your 'Thais respect the nature and don't throw rubbish everywhere', get rid of your rose tinted glasses (real or copy)!

Posted by Logic on August 25, 2012 13:42

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I no longer dive here - there just isn't anything to see. It's been over fished and raped and it will continue to be the case until the laws are enforced.

Posted by Graham on August 25, 2012 13:58

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Suwarn, just MUST be a troll.

Posted by Resident on August 25, 2012 16:17

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@Suwan "Foriener always throwing rubbish in the sea... Thais respect the nature and don't throw rubbish everywhere."

Thank you for giving me the biggest laugh of the week. In the west we are taught from an early age to take care of our environment and not litter.

Posted by nomadjoe on August 25, 2012 16:33

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@Logic @Resident @nomadjoe -
You must read and translate the opposite of what he wrote to understand Khun Suwarn and then it will be clear for all...that he takes foreigners for the perfect clowns of the day for that national park fee increases.

Suwarn wrote and was willing to say: You understand WHY Thai pay 5 times foreigner price because Thai cause a lot more damage to diving sites that foreigners. Thais always throwing rubbish in the sea. Thais always taking things (shells, corals) from the sea for souvenir to take home. Foreigners respect the nature and don't throw rubbish everywhere. That's why is OK for foriegner to be charged 5 times more than Thai prices.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 26, 2012 17:43

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"The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation says some national parks are suffering from too many tourists and the new fees will be a deterrent to help fight environmental deterioration" This is so massively unfair, for example if you are in a profession that is essential and in many cases shows you are a caring person, like a nurse, a teacher why should you priced out of seeing your own country's nature. This makes me really angry my girlfriend is a teacher in a Thai government school (Thai national) and has a modest salary she and others like her 500Baht is a lot of money. Yes of course I can help her with money but she has pride and does not like to ask, in fact she never asks I always offer, but not every teacher has a boyfriend who has money. A better way to acheive the same results is to have better signage and Park Wardens to make sure people do not damage the park, taking flowers or corals etc. No Thai citizen should be priced out of their own country.

Posted by Happy Farang on January 4, 2013 15:17


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