Friday, April 18, 2014

Thailand: "Sea Walking" Tours Remain Unregulated, Tourists Urged to NOT Participate in "Sea-Walking"

According to, an Indian tourist died of heart failure after he went for a "sea walk" near Thailand's popular beach town of Pattaya, bringing the country's marine safety standards under the scanner yet again.

The unidentified Indian tourist went out on a "sea-walking" tour and died of heart failure on February 27, 2014.

"Sea-walking" offers tourists the opportunity to walk on the sea floor wearing helmets and surface-supplied air to witness the corals and marine life at Koh Larn.

Tragically, this is not the first fatality of a sea-walking tourist in Pattaya. In 2010, another Indian tourist had died during a "sea-walking" excursion.

In both the 2010 and 2014 cases, the operator told customers and authorities that the diver died of heart failure, not due to any equipment defect, reports said, although there reportedly were no autopsies of the victims or toxicology analyses.

"Before he entered the water we asked the tourist whether he suffered from any disease. The dead man and his wife confirmed they did not," said Thanwat Thittirattasaj, a representative from Jack and Joy Company, the "sea-walker" tour firm who organized the trip on which the latter tourist died. 

Pattaya's Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and Watchara Jiemanukul of the Pattaya Marine Department met with operators of all twelve "sea-walker" companies in Pattaya on March 12 in the beach town about an hour-and-a-half from Bangkok, according to The Pattaya Mail.

COMMENT: Having lived in Thailand for number of years where I served as Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO) in Bangkok, the Land of Smiles, sadly, is among one of the most poorly regulated countries in the world.

The meeting was ordered by Chonburi province Governor Khomsan Ekachai after reports that the Indian tourist died on a recent tour, again casting a harsh light on Pattaya's marine-safety record. 

Despite more than a decade of occasional scrutiny and promises of reform, the city's "sea-walker" tours remain unregulated with firms operating without any government oversight, the Mail said. 

Ekasingh confirmed that "sea-walker" diving is still an activity that that has not been approved by any agency. Hence, there has to be a safety inspection conducted plus the Marine Department has to study the boat-registration guidelines.

It would be appropriate for the families of the two decedents file wrongful death lawsuits in Thailand.

I strongly discourage tourists to Thailand from participating in any "sea-walking" excursion until such time as the government of Thailand gets "its regulatory act together."