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Down goes the Bang Tao artificial reef: more are probably coming

Phuket to Host World Dive Assembly

Monday, January 19, 2009
WITH Phuket dive businesses suffering, the industry will gain a boost at the start of the low season when the island hosts an important international meeting.

CMAS, the World Underwater Federation, has selected Phuket as this year's location for its annual general assembly from May 2-9.

This year will also mark the 50th anniversary of the organization that promotes safe and responsible diving and other water sports.

The meeting will be held at the Phuket Orchid Resort in Karon Beach.

Some 500 CMAS delegates are expected to attend, says Rainer Gottwald, CMAS Thailand representative and Thai Diving Association CEO.

The meeting will bring more than 2000 to Phuket since many of the delegates will bring their families and make the visit part of a holiday, he says.

The Thai Diving Association is organizing the meeting, and last week the Thai Exhibition and Convention Bureau signed on as a sponsor.

TECB will help in organizing and promoting the meeting.

The dive event is hoped to give a much-need lift to an industry that has seen a sharp downturn in business over the past year.

Gottwald says that across Thailand dive companies are seeing a "maximum of 50 percent" of the business they had last year, and that the industry is suffering more now than it did after the 2004 tsunami.

Gottwald talked to Phuketwan just before boarding a flight to Germany to attend the Boot Dusseldorf, where he will represent the TDA in promoting diving in Thailand.

The Boot Dusseldorf is an annual event for the boat and water sports industry. This is the 40th show, running this year from January 17-25.

Nearly 280,000 visitors come to the Boot, which has nearly 1,700 exhibitors from 57 countries.

Following a year of political unrest in Thailand, both diving and resort businesses will need to do "a lot of promotion" to restore tourists' confidence in the country, Gottwald says.

Among Gottwald's plans are to create a "huge boat show" in Thailand and to create more artificial reefs in the Andaman, from Khao Lak to Koh Lanta.

Gottwald has lived in Phuket for 14 years, and has spent the last decade working on the artificial reef project, known as the Coral Reef Squadron, that was finally installed in Bang Tao Bay in late November last year.

The dramatic underwater scene of sunken military aircraft has already become a popular diving spot and plenty of fish are already being seen there, says Gottwald.

He says that diving in Phuket is not what it was 14 years ago, but with better environmental controls and more cooperation between organizations it could remain a premier diving destination.

Formed in Brussels in 1959, CMAS is one of the world's oldest scuba diving organizations and offers training and certification for many levels of diving.


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Monday March 20, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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