Bangkok Post –
Some 90% of diving schools in Thailand are run by overseas operators, resulting in the country losing large amounts of revenue to foreigners at the expense of Thailand’s natural resources, says Palang Yimpanich, the owner of Sport Time Dive Center.
Thailand is one of the world’s most popular diving destinations.
The country’s top-five diving sites are Similan’s Marine National Park, Surin’s Marine National Park (Richelieu Rock), Hin Daeng-Hin Muang, Koh Ha (Lanta Island) and Koh Phi Phi’s Shark Point.
According to the Jan-Feb 2009 issue of Scuba Diving magazine, Thailand was voted the No.2 snorkelling site in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the top 10 for scuba diving.
The law requires diving schools and centres to have Thai shareholders holding a 51% stake, but most of them are actually nominees, said Mr Palang. Most dive centres on islands belong to foreign operators who arrive as tourists.
They run their business during the high season and leave when the low season comes, he added.
They have dominated the local diving business for over a decade because only a small number of Thais are qualified instructors.