Industry standards to be set for sea walking
PHUKET: The local Tourist Business and Guide Registration Office (GRO) is to set up a committee to regulate the sea walking industry, based on the recommendations of an environmental impact study on coral reefs. The announcement was made on Monday, after GRO officials met with officers of provincial government departments involved in overseeing the industry, including Phuket’s Fisheries Office, Harbor Master’s Office, Environmental Office and Forestry Office, and the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet. Since 1997, due to pressure from environmentalists, the government has denied applications for new businesses to enter the industry, although existing sea walking companies have been allowed to continue operating. Prachuab Tangka-arree, Director of the GRO, told the Gazette, “At the moment, it is not clear how much environmental damage is caused by sea-walking. Once this is known, we will be in a better position to decide whether to allow new companies to enter the industry or not.” The industry standards will be based on an environmental impact study to be conducted by the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research. The study, which is expected to take six months, will include an examination of how safe and environmentally-friendly current sea walking equipment is. “The new committee will form a team to inspect and regulate the operators. The team will comprise five officers from local government departments, and between five and seven officers from Bangkok,” K. Prachuab said. “Once the standards are set and the study proves that the industry does little environmental damage, the government will allow more sea-walking businesses to operate,” he added.
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