The project, called ‘Phuket Diving Seabox’, aims to have local dive tour operators conduct sealed dive tour holidays for tourists coming to Phuket, allowing tourists to land on Phuket and be safely escorted direct from the airport to the SHA+ liveaboard dive tour boat that they will enjoy the first week of their holiday on. Under the project, the tourists will observe their quarantine and have their mandatory COVID tests conducted while on board the boat.
“Now we are in contact with several marinas in Phuket and Krabi, and the Thai Yachting association,” explained Kevin Lidureau of Seafarer Divers.
“We will have an informal meeting with them in the coming days to look at the strategy we will use to present the project to the Thai administration.
“Next week we have an appointment with a vice governor to organise presenting the project to the governor, and after that for the governor to present the project to Bangkok,” he added.
“Now the goal is to get more and more people to accept the project. We need public support for the project and support from government officials. If we don’t do it now, the dive industry will be dead after this coming high season, because the if we can get government support for the project, we can start getting bookings now,” Mr Lidureau told The Phuket News.
The liveaboards will operate tours of seven to 10 days at a time, and will travel to popular dive sites and areas renowned for their natural beauty.
“We are looking to be able to conduct tours to all marine national parks in the Andaman, The Similans and Surin marine parks are more popular for divers, and we also go to Krabi, Koh Lipe and Tarutao national park,” Mr Lidureau said.
The project is expected to bring well-spending tourists to Phuket, and not only serve just the dive industry, but also megayachts based in Phuket.
“We already have a doctor and a lab, a clinic, willing to help us, because we cannot push more onto officials, and we have an insurance team to help find a hospital in case there is a cluster on any megayacht or liveaboard as well,” Kevin explained.
The urgency of project comes as the COVID outbreak that has forced the lockdown of 13 high-risk provinces is expected to spread, but also while the Phuket maintains a special place in the country as the one entry point to the country under the Sandbox tourism scheme.
“We are very lucky to live in Phuket because the Thai administration will do all they can to avoid a full lockdown in Phuket Province and keep open the island to tourists from worldwide countries as Thailand need to save tourism at any cost to make money and save what can be saved in the tourism businesses and the hotels industry owned by international hotel chains and rich families in Thailand,” Seafarer Divers said in an announcement issued yesterday (July 21).
“It is good for Phuket, it is the tourism industry and the dive businesses which have been our livelihood for a very long time,” the announcement noted.
“The Covid pandemic will certainly increase dramatically as already it is beyond control in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces and more and more provinces are added to the list of the worst contaminated provinces by Covid.
“Thailand will have the Covid pandemic until more than 70% of the population will be vaccinated to have herd immunity, and at the speed it is going at less than 1.7 million jabs per week it will take many months as one person needs two jabs and once a year a new jab; therefore for the dive liveaboard operators, it will be a financial disaster for the bookings for the coming season from October to May 2022,” the statement pointed out.
“It is the right time that all dive companies owning or operating liveaboard dive boats to join together to lobby the Phuket Governor, the Ministry of Tourism & Sports and decision-makers in the Thai administration to open a memorandum of understanding to open Phuket Province as a ‘PHUKET DIVING SEABOX’ for Thai dive liveaboard boats for the coming season,” it added.
The statement pointed out that the suggested agreement would be:
- Welcoming foreign divers to come to Phuket to book liveaboard dive trips in the Marine National Parks in the Andaman Sea.
- All dive liveaboard boats will have to be certified under Safety and Health Administration (SHA) and follow the official regulation about transport boats.
- Imperatively, all boat departures and divers disembarking will have to be done from Phuket Province such as Chalong Bay Marina Pier in order that the Thai administration have an easy and full record of all passengers and crews in case of a Covid cluster on any dive liveaboard boat.
- All liveaboard dive boats will book and pay DNP [Department of National Parks] before departures with the planning of the dive trips to national parks.
- To avoid the eventual spreading of the COVID virus to rangers and people living on the islands, it will be prohibited for the divers and crews to go ashore to visit the islands.
Any suggestions from dive boat operators were welcomed. People can contact Kevin Lidureau, Marketing Director at Seafarer Divers Co., Ltd at (Mobile/Line/WhatsApp): 081-9794911.
Seafarer Divers can be contacted through their website Seafarer-divers.com or through their Facebook page: Seafarer Divers Phuket Thailand - Scuba & Kayaking