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Save our tourists: Tour operators urged to help prevent deadly marine accidents

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports has called for the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) to ask its members to refrain from offering diving activities to tourists on the first day they arrive in Thailand.

tourism, marine, death, accidents, Chinese,

The Phuket News

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 11:45AM

Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul has urged tour operators to help prevent tourists from entering the water on their first day of holidays in Thailand, especially in Phuket. Photo: The Phuket News / file
Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul has urged tour operators to help prevent tourists from entering the water on their first day of holidays in Thailand, especially in Phuket. Photo: The Phuket News / file

According to the statement, signed by Tourism & Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul and dated last Friday (June 7), the ministry is concerned for the welfare of tourists who might be suffering from jet lag, or are otherwise tired after a long flight.

Chinese tourists who love water sports are the main target for the new campaign, which is a response to an increase in marine accidents including drowning.

Recent data showed that visitors were more at risk the day immediately following their arrival in Thailand, one official told TTR Weekly.

“They need time to acclimatise so we are recommending that agents adjust their programmes so diving and marine activities start a day later,” the official said.

The official also noted the news was “sensitive” as it might interpreted as negative to Thailand’s tourism industry. (See story here.)

“Tour programmes should avoid organising water activities especially marine activities and diving for tourists in the first day of arriving in Thailand for them to adjust. The tourism operators should question the tourists’ health and provide tips on how to use water sports equipment clearly,” the statement read. (See official request here.)

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An official at the ministry’s Bureau of Tourism Safety Standard confirmed to The Phuket News that from Jan 1 to June 12 this year, 54 international tourists involved in water-safety incidents, in which 13 tourists were injured and 41 died from drowning.

Chinese tourists were involved in 30 incidents – with 11 injured and 19 killed – the highest of all nationalities.

Russian, American, British, German, Canadian, Malaysian, Indian and French tourists were also included in the chilling statistics, reported TTR Weekly.

“Close to 12 million Chinese visit Thailand and this year the country will welcome 34.4 million tourists if forecasts are accurate. It is inevitable that the accident rate will rise along with the massive increases in tourist arrivals,” noted the TTR Weekly report.

Phuket, the country’s top beach destination, up to June 6 this year recorded the most cases with 21 sea accidents followed by Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui (19), Krabi and its popular islands, include Phi Phi Island (18) and Chonburi, which includes Pattaya (14), the report added.

The call for preventing more deaths and injuries on the water comes in a week that saw 20 Chinese tourists escape injury as their speedboat rammed – and mounted – another speedboat while the tourists were returning to Phuket from Phi Phi Island on Sunday (June 11), followed by three Chinese tourists rescued from strong surf at Patong Beach on Monday. (See stories here and here.)



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Asterix | 14 June 2017 - 12:11:09

Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports is speaking about Snorkelling Tours or SCUBA Diving Tours?

For SCUBA Diving, all reputable dive centers request to beginner-divers and certified divers to fill up an official Health Statement to check if the customers are fit or not for diving activities.

Also, by booking with TAT registered dive centers, all non-certified divers and DSD Divers (Discovery Scuba Diving) are under the direct supervision of certified dive Instructors with work-permits and travel insurances.

According to Thai law, certified divers must be under the supervision of certified Thai Divemasters and/or Thai dive Instructors.

The main problem we have today is that Chinese Tour-Operators avoid to book with properly registered dive centers and organise by themself dive tours and Try Dive (DSD) without professional Thai Divemasters and/or dive Instructors and most of the time it is Chinese foreign staff without work-permit and dive certifications who do it.

Thai administration should reinforce the law with regular checks on tour and dive boats and have Marine Police boats on coral reefs to supervise and help in case of accident as it is done in many tropical countries around the world.

Also TAT Registration (Thailand) does not have a true database of all professional Divemasters and dive Instructors (Thais and foreigners alike) as most of them are working as freelancers and some as part-time jobs, especially amongst Thais.
So it may time to get all professional Divemasters and dive Instructors (Thais & Foreigners alike) in the dive industry to be registered with TAT Registration with a Pro Identification TAT Card as all Thai Tour guides are wearing around the neck and in extra a waterproof bagde to be fixed on the BCD with a serial number (TAT Registration Number) as it is done in many Marine National Parks around the world.

The Phuket News

simon01 | 14 June 2017 - 12:03:42

Then ban then speed boat tour unless the skipper has an international skippers license. Then make the tour leader a qualified divemaster at least. Then have grous of max 6:1 when in the water and have a guide in the water with each group. Many cant swim so 6 is the maximum number and thats for trained diving instrctors not just some local beach boy pulled off the beach with no training at all. If you had anyone from the dive industry in charge of the water tours the accidents will drop over night and employ hundreds more locals to run the tours and create more work in low season for the trainers to train all the new guides. More work for locals and virtually now accidents can be done over a few months if they want to .

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