The dive tour boat North Star was named by Nares Choopueng, Chief of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) Krabi office, as the boat they banned from revisiting one particular dive site near Phi Phi Island that lies within the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.
The ban to the site follows a group of divers from the boat being caught holding a sign congratulating a Japanese diver for completing 200 dives, on a coral head off the popular tourist island on Friday (Jan 26). (See story here.)
“We warned those divers already. They did not listen to our advice,” Vivaan Vichaidit, Manager of Happy Star Tour Co Ltd, told The Phuket News late this afternoon (Jan 29).
“I was very angry when I found out about this. Of course we did not want this to happen,” she said.
Ms Vivaan said such instances were beyond her company’s control.
“We always tell people going on the boat to make sure they do not damage any corals or any other forms of coastal and marine life. We do our job the best we can,” she said.
Ms Vivaan added, “Our company just rents the boat to clients. We don’t hold any dive courses or classes for tourists at all. Most of tour companies that rent the boat manage their own dive instructors.
“The behaviour of these foreigners has harmed our [company’s] reputation. We cannot tolerate that. I am welcome to give information to officials. If officials want names or the name of the tour company involved in this, we are happy to provide them,” she added.
“In this case, we want everyone to see the truth before make any judgements. We want our business to continue as we have done, with full care for the environment. We strongly support the preservation of all marine life underwater,” she said.
Since the story has been posted online earlier today, Happy Star Tour co Ltd has already received strong support from Phuket’s dive community on Facebook comments posted online.
PADI dive instructor Dave Inchmore said, “So a company has to suffer for a few peoples stupid behaviour!! I go on this boat a lot & I can tell you now the tour leader & staff are great, gives a good briefing & is very particular about good diving practices. I.e not touching anything etc.....
“This is down to a few idiotic individuals that don't give a s**t about anything but themselves & now others have to suffer, so what's happened to the individuals?? Would like to know. They need dragging in & work permits etc checked!!
“Now all the Thai crew (who are great on this boat) will suffer from this mainly financially,
Good work to the individuals for trampling on the corals!!”
Similarly, another Phuket dive instructor Sam Kelly, noted, “It’s actually one of my favourite boats Dave. I also feel sorry for that company and the crew.”