11 July 2024

Two western tourists, who took a selfie of themselves holding one of Thailand’s species of protected marine wildlife while scuba diving, are to be deported after their tourist visas were revoked.

The pair were identified as Attila Ott, a Hungarian national, and Francesco Simonetti, an Italian citizen.  Mr. Ott is a diving instructor who also owns a restaurant and a scuba club on Pha-ngan Island, in Thailand’s southern province of Surat Thani,while Mr. Simonetti is a chef at the Barracuda restaurant and owner of a speed boat, also on Pha-ngan Island.

According to the Thai immigration police, the two men areconsidered to be a “social threat”, because they used a selfie stick to poke protected species, in the seas off Pha-ngan Island,and then caught them for a photo shot, which was posted on social media for publicity purposes.

Those images have drawn fierce criticism of the two divers from netizens.

Pol Col Suparoek Pankoson, the immigration police chief in Surat Thani province, told the media on Thursday that the penalties inflicted on the two men will serve as a lesson to all tourists about doing anything which may harm protected marine and wildlife species.

He added, however, that Thailand always welcomes law-abiding visitors.