Draft dive industry rules revealed

PHUKET: Provincial authorities have distributed to dive operators in Phuket a draft of new regulations governing the licensing of dive businesses. Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura has given the parties concerned seven days to reply with comments or suggestions about the regulations.

The draft regulations, in Thai language, are divided into three parts. One part covers environmental concerns and protection of coral, and applies to boat race organizers as well as dive businesses.

These regulations will come into effect 30 days after their announcement on Wednesday and businesses will then have a further 60 days to comply with the regulations.

The second part gives instructions on how to register as a dive operator, while the final part sets out plans for the formation of three committees. The first will receive applications for permission to operate a diving business or from boat race organizers; the second will examine applications before presentation to the governor and the third will inspect licensed businesses and deal with illegal operators.

The draft covering registration dictates that dive operators must register their business with the Phuket Marine Office and must present the company’s registration documents and tax information, the work permits of foreign staff, all boat registration documents including the names of captain and crew, records of salaries and wages, and details of any related website, the company payment system, diving courses and students.

The dive businesses that are granted permission to operate from the province will also have to submit monthly reports giving details of income, current staff and dive trips. Businesses that fail to submit reports or that are deemed to have submitted inadequate reports will risk having their permission to operate withdrawn.

The moves were announced on July 26 at a meeting chaired by Governor Udomsak at Phuket Provincial Hall. Representatives from the diving and tourism industries, local government and tourism authorities also attended.

The Governor explained to the assembly that the draft regulations were not designed to make people’s lives more complicated, but were to be put in place to protect the environment and to ensure operators were acting within the law.

He also said that any ideas raised in the meeting could be incorporated into the regulations before they came into effect.

Measures suggested in the meeting, but not yet included in the new regulations, included setting safety and insurance standards and encouraging the training of Thai dive masters.

After the meeting the Governor told reporters, “We are trying to establish a system that will be acceptable to all, and help to ensure tourism in the long term by protecting the environment for future generations.

“We will wait for comments from everyone concerned before enacting the regulations so that we do not have to change them later. I believe that other provinces will follow our lead.”

Phuket News

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