Aquanauts, Mermaids Kick Off Pattaya Dive Festival Saturday

Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Aquanauts' Bob James at the Pattaya Dive Festival press conference Nov. 3.

Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Aquanauts' Bob James at the Pattaya Dive Festival press conference Nov. 3.

More than 500 scuba divers from Bangkok and Pattaya will hunt for treasure, clean coral reefs and plant new coral during this weekend’s Pattaya Dive Festival.

Sponsored by Aquanauts Dive Centre and Mermaid’s Dive Center in Pattaya as well as four Bangkok scuba shops, the Nov. 13-14 festival is aimed at introducing Bangkok divers to Pattaya’s island dive sites and raising awareness about the importance of marine conservation.

“This is the grandest collaboration ever between the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Pattaya office and the dive industry,” Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome said at the event’s Nov. 3 kick-off press conference at the Reflection Condominium sales office in Jomtien Beach. “Six well-known dive centers, including Aquanauts and Mermaids in Pattaya, as well as Wahoo Dive Center, Dive Indeed, Dive Innovation and Dive Now in Bangkok are working to encourage people to be conscious of environmental preservation while engaging in a fun activity.”

While bookings remain open at Aquanauts’ office and online until Nov. 8, more than 400 scuba enthusiasts have already paid the 2,400 baht fee for festival tickets. Organizers hope they can bring more than 500 divers to the area. Most the bookings so far, planners said, came as hoped from Bangkok.

Activities will start early with divers assembling at Bali Hai Pier for breakfast and safety briefings at 8 a.m. From there, the 16-boat armada will head to Koh Krok for an underwater photography contest and treasure hunt, with prizes donated by the city, TAT, PADI, Divers Alert Network, Major Development Co., and other sponsors.

After lunch, the group will converge on Koh Sak for an underwater reef cleanup, then return to port and prepare for a party at Reflection Condominium in Jomtien Beach.

The following day will be an invitation-only day for sponsors and political leaders who will plant coral at Koh Larn.

Pattaya Dive Festival“Pattaya’s proximity to Bangkok has become an important variable in drawing a large number of diving fans to Pattaya,” said TAT Pattaya office director Niti Kongkrut. “Bangkok shops often bring their students to Pattaya to complete coursework started in in the capital. However, many other divers don’t realize the non-course, fun-diving opportunities that Pattaya also offers.“

Kongkrut added that TAT, the city and local dive operators hope the festival will spur more business during the just-begun high season.

The Dive Festival is the latest effort by the five PADI dive centers united under the Pattaya Dive Club banner to raise the profile of Pattaya – the home of three undersea shipwrecks – as a premier diving destination. The group, supported by the city, PADI and the Royal Thai Navy, aims to sink as many as five more wrecks over the next 10 years,

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