“Thailand is to charge scuba-divers 200 baht ($4.50) everytime they visit popular diving spots in the Andaman Sea.
The fee, agreed by both government agencies and tour operators, will be be imposed from the start of Thailand’s tourist high season next month.
The Andaman Sea, on the eastern fringes of the Indian Ocean, is home to some of the best dive spots in the world including the Surin and Similan Islands, 850 km southwest of Bangkok.
Millions of tourists a year visit the popular Thai resort island of Phuket and southern beaches around Krabi, putting huge strain on the environment, and local resources.
Plodprasop Suraswadi, the Forestry Department chief said his department simply did not have enough money to maintain all the reefs in crowded dive spots, which have been damaged in recent years by large numbers of divers and by the anchors of pleasure boats.
Therefore the money raised will be used to look after the coral reefs skirting popular tourist destinations and to improve local services, he said.