Deadbeat dive operators under the microscope

PHUKET: Following a February 23 meeting to discuss problems in Phuket’s recreational dive industry, a new committee will be formed to ensure that all dive operators are accurately reporting their income – and paying taxes on it.

Phuket’s Chief Administrative Officer (Palad), Nivit Aroonrat, who chaired the meeting, said that the Phuket dive industry currently comprises 106 operators, of which about 70% are owned by foreigners.

“Many people have [complained] about the large number of foreigners coming here to open dive shops that give little back to our country.

“Although most are registered in the name of a Thai, these are just proxies. The companies are actually administrated by foreigners, which makes it difficult for us to know their real numbers of customers, staff and boats, and their income,” he said.

“It isn’t fair that these companies take in 50,000 to 100,000 baht from each customer for dive trips and then give nothing back to Phuket in taxes … There are many dive companies in Phuket that are evading taxes.

“This is why we will form a special committee to oversee the industry and check on these dive outfits to see how much income they actually make and how many people they really employ,” he said.

Despite the fact that officials from the government agencies involved in environmental protection told the meeting that they had received no reports of environmental damage caused by dive operators, the committee will also establish zones in provincial waters where dive tours may be conducted; other areas would be declared conservation zones and will be off-limits.

K. Nivit added that he believed there was no reason to have so many foreign dive masters and instructors when Thais were capable of doing these jobs.

“Thais can teach diving, but the foreigners don’t give us the chance,” he said.

Phuket News
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