KATA: A Dive Operators Club is to be formed to represent the industry in Phuket. This decision follows a meeting of dive shops last night at Kata Beach Resort, which was attended by about 45 people from 27 of the island’s 80-odd dive companies. The decision to form the club follows consternation among the dive operators over a drive by Tourist Police to arrest dive masters who were alleged to be acting as guides while not having guide licenses, which are issued only to Thai nationals. At least 10 dive masters and three tourists were arrested during the Tourist Police crackdown, which had the effect of pulling together members of an industry renowned for bitter infighting. While the club is being legally incorporated, a temporary committee has been appointed. The members are Jeroen Deknatel and Maarten Brusselers from Fantasea Divers; Patrick Cotter of Asian Adventures; Arne Olsen of AO Diving; Volker Ross of Highclass Diving; Charly Bouvy of the MV Thai Sea; Kevan Thompson of Phuket Scuba Club; Daniel Burda of Dive Asia; Allistair Beveridge of Sea King Divers; Thomas Kroon of Scuba Venture; and Udo Hartig of Warm Water Divers. Meanwhile, this morning, the first three dive masters to be arrested by the Tourist Police – one from Fantasea, one from Asian Adventures and one from Sea Bees – gathered at Chalong Police Station for an appointment with the public prosecutor. Pol Capt Chana Soothimat of the Chalong Police explained to them that he had been unable to contact the arresting officers from the Tourist Police, and had therefore been unable to complete his investigation report. The meeting with the public prosecutor was postponed indefinitely.
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