For the first season since the Tsunami 2004, the numbers of scuba diving liveaboard trips and the overall total number of divers visiting the Similan Marine Park are on the decline.
Daily observations of scuba diving vessels have indicated a total decline of about 30% compared to January 2014 in the presence of scuba diving liveaboards and amount of divers visiting the Similan Islands. One reason for this is the overall plunge in tourist numbers Thailand is facing at the moment. Due to the military coup in May 2014 general visitor numbers have dropped by 25%.
In the Similan Islands another factor comes into play: The season 2013/14 saw by far the highest amounts of scuba divers in the National Park ever. Nearly 150.000 divers immersed themselves into the waters of the Similan National Park between October 2013 and May 2014. This led many budget operators to the conclusion, that their capacities weren’t sufficient to get their operation through another season with peaking tourist numbers. As a result these budget operators increased their capacities by introducing a high number of new cheap budget scuba liveaboards into the area. The budget market used to be the backbone of the Similan diving industry for nearly one and a half decade. But now with rising guest house pices in Khao Lak and several international travel advices against the Thai Military Junta, this market segment dropped by nearly 40%. All those newly introduced budget liveaboards are now hard to fill to the point where it is financially reasonable to send them out at sea and so many of them stay in the harbour with a potential filling rate lower than 50%.
A complete different situation can be witnessed in the mid-range and luxury market segment. No new high-end boats have been launched within the last year and the improved state of the similan islands have attracted experienced and wealthy divers as never before. As a result, the mis-range and luxury boats are about 90% sold out until the end of the season by now, returning happy divers back on land who enjoyed world class diving in the Similan Islands as lonely as never before.