Scuba Diving Phuket – Recovery After the Pandemic
The Phuket scuba diving industry took a pretty big hit during the COVID pandemic. Phuket was isolated from the outside world for almost 18 months. During the period there were times when there was no scuba diving in Phuket at all. Even our local beach dives at Kata Beach were banned for an amount of time.
The Phuket scuba diving industry is heavily reliant on international visitors and some businesses are almost 99% dependent on international divers.
It was a very tough time for scuba diving in Phuket. A lot of scuba diving instructors returned to their native countries and employment within the scuba diving was slashed. The pandemic caused a lot of businesses to close and of those that did not close, virtually all suffered heavy financial loses.
During the period Aussie Divers Phuket lost 95% of their staff with most expat staff returning home to their native countries.
The first wave of recovery
The first opening of Phuket to tourists started with the Phuket Sandbox. This saw scuba divers confined to the boundaries of Phuket. We were allowed to dive to the Racha Islands however we could not do day trips to the famous scuba diving destination of Phi Phi as that was situated in the Krabi province.
The incoming divers gave the Phuket scuba diving a much-needed psychological boost. It not only gave some separately needed financial income but also provided some hope and light at the end of the tunnel.
During that period, most scuba divers were returning expats and a lot were familiar with diving in Phuket.
The 2021 – 2022 Christmas – New Year Period
The Christmas New Year period is always a busy one for Phuket. In a normal year the scuba diving boats may fill weeks in advance and even months in advance.
Although the numbers were not as high as non-pandemic years, there was a good numbers of scuba divers around. The rules were relaxed and Phuket divers were now able to travel to Phi Phi to scuba dive.
The Similan Islands liveaboard vessels also recorded good numbers and often ran will full boats.
The short but busy period gave a much needed financial boost the the scuba diving industry and went part of the way to a recover to the industry. We will be looking for a better high season this year.
The months proceeding may become the low season for the Phuket scuba diving industry. So far the year has been what is considered a normal low season. This can be taken as a positive as it indicates that the number of scuba divers returning to the pre-pandemic figures.
One would think that that we are through the worst of the COVID pandemic. It appears that there is now come confidence returning to international travel with most countries now opening back up to tourists without restrictions. China is the notable exception an it could be years before we see our northern neighbors return to the island.
Hopefully the upcoming 2022 – 2023 season is a good one and we can begin to leave the tough times of COVID behind us.
Special Thank You
We would like to thank all those that donated to our GoFundMe page and to all those that dived with us and gave financial assistance during the dark days of the pandemic. Your assistance went a long way to saving us from closure. Thank you again.
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