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Illegal sea-walking to continue

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Illegal sea-walking to continue | Thaiger

PHUKET: Despite an almost two-year-old ban, illegal sea-walking companies were given another eight months to operate on Koh Hey, one of Phuket’s many outlying islands. At a recent meeting at Government House in Bangkok between Phuket Vice Governor Vongsak Sawaspanich, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and Mrs Paveena Hongsakula, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office (Tourism Division), it was decided that the sea-walking operators would be given yet another extension to conduct their business. The decision came amid fears that other businesses on and around Koh Hey would suffer as a result of a decrease in tourists to the area. Sea-walking was first banned in September 1998, although three operators were given special permission to continue their activities until July 1999. But the three have not yet ceased operations. It was also decided that a committee (to be set up by the TAT) will conduct a study on the economic impact that a complete ban will have on businesses on the island. The committee will apparently focus on alternative businesses that will attract tourists. Sea-walking, which is said to be very damaging to coral reefs, was first banned in Phuket province after it was identified as one of the main contributors to the destruction of the area’s fragile marine ecosystem.

 

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