PHUKET TOWN: Prajuab Thangka-aree, Chief of the Region 2 Tourist Business and Guide Office, has announced that three local businesses will be permitted to offer sea walker expeditions until their current licences for the activity expire. The official made the announcement on Saturday at the Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel following a decision by the Tourist Business and Guide Commission in Bangkok. Representatives of local diving companies involved in sea walking tours were present at the meeting. The commission, presided over by Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and Phang Nga MP Jurin Laksanawisit, concluded that licensed sea walking businesses could continue the underwater activity under tightened regulations through their licence expiry dates, but that new extensions or permits would not be granted. Sea walker tour licenses held by three local tour operators – Diving Sport Club Co, Holiday Diving Club Co and Pal Travel Services – will expire in mid-1999. The sea walker license granted to Diving Today expired last July. The commission cited potential damage to the fragile underwater environment as well as tourist safety concerns in reaching its decision. Last year, several measures were enacted to minimize the environmental impact of the activity and ensure safety as the groups of novice divers explore the sea bottom.
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