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Phuket reef aircraft and helicopters at Cape Panwa in May

Phuket Sky Dive Reef Saved for Bang Tao

Monday, August 25, 2008
Monday TRENDS

PHUKET'S Sky Dive Reef, made of old aircraft, is set for a happy landing on the ocean bottom off Bang Tao beach in November.

But last week, the island's novelty deep sea squadron almost took flight to Koh Racha.

At a day-long meeting where many of the financial details were thrashed out, it was suggested that Koh Racha would be a better destination for the obsolete planes and helicopters.

In the end, after much discussion, Bang Tao prevailed.

The idea of using the old Thai Air Force stock as a sunken reef is that the novelty of diving in and around cockpits and fuselages will help to protect the region's natural coral treasures by attracting tourists to other sites.

Some of those involved in the diving debate have wanted the artificial reef as close as possible to their businesses.

However, that is not necessarily in the best interests of Phuket's reefs, which are threatened by overuse, abuse and pollution.

Bang Tao, which has few natural reefs and was extensively dredged during the tin mine period, won the day.

Sponsorship stickers from Amanpuri and Laguna Phuket already adorned some of the aircraft when they were on public display on the wharves at Cape Panwa Deep Sea Port in May.

The approaching monsoon season, coupled with the difficulty of hauling large parts out to sea and then lowering them to the bottom, led to the construction of the reef being delayed until high season 2008-2009.

Koh Racha may have lost the Sky Dive Reef but the island recently won a ''new deal'' at a crisis summit, banning jetskis, controlling diving and snorkelling and offering better protection for the popular reefs there.

The other big debate at last week's meeting was about the cost of transporting the planes and helicopters south by road to Phuket.

The trucking contractor, who had to carefully bring the cavalcade of oversized pieces to the island, was anxious about payment of the 2.4 million baht bill.

There was an extended discussion about which organisation would pay on the basis of the original hand-shake agreement.

At one stage, the contractor said that if it wasn't sorted quickly, he would carry the Sky Dive Reef back to Lopburi province.

That seemed to quickly resolve the issue, and he left the meeting a contented man.

Russians Coming? What Russians?

PHUKET IMMIGRATION reacted with some astonishment today when told that tourism authorities were predicting that 600,000 Russians would be arriving at Phuket Airport in the 12 months beginning this high season.

In its new high-tech headquarters, just opened in Saphan Hin, Phuket City, Immigration is already using 45 farang volunteers to help deal with the constant pressure of work from Phuket's tourism industry.

''If you told me 100,000 more Russians were coming, I would believe you,'' one senior officer said. ''But 600,000?

''Are you sure that the tourism authorities and the ambassador have got that figure right?''

Well, yes.

That's the figure that everyone from Vice Governor Worapot Rattasima on down has been quoting, starting with extra charter flights from St Petersburg in October.

''If 600,000 Russians are coming,'' the senior Immigration officer said, ''where will all these extra people stay?

''If 600,000 Russians are coming, we will not have to worry about the Burmese any more.

''We will be worrying about the Russian Mafia.''

Look for
TRENDS
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

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Look for
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Sunday October 17, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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