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Tourist numbers tumble as Chinese media expose entrenched safety problems

The Thaiger

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Tourist numbers tumble as Chinese media expose entrenched safety problems | The Thaiger

The fallout from July’s tragic boat accident are just now starting to bite as tourists, who would have been about to make a booking around the time the accident happened, decided to book an alternate holiday destination instead. Despite the bravado and PR exercises, many Thai business people are secretly worried about the big drop-off in numbers. The drop in Chinese tourist numbers is the first real dent in what’s otherwise been a rise and rise in number over the past five years.

Tom Tuoy from the South China Morning Post has written an article which delves into the current Chinese mind-set and the things that are concerning them about travel in Thailand – a long time favourite for the growing outward-bound Chinese tourist market.

Chinese tourists make up a quarter of Thailand’s visitors, but after the handling of the recent boat accident in which 47 Chinese tourists died, and with the kingdom’s lax attitude to safety, authorities need to act quickly and decisively to retain Thailand’s tourism revenue.

The high profile international rescue at Tham Luang took a lot of attention away from what would have otherwise been a massive international story. Many media commentators freely admit that Phuket dodged a news bullet when the reporting wasn’t as intense as it would have been in such a disaster.

The SCMP article says that the boat accident that claimed the lives of 47 Chinese tourists last month is shining a stark spotlight on the Kingdom’s poor safety record and spread unease among tourism authorities and the government.

Two weeks ago The Thaiger reported that the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports had revised down its forecast for the number of Chinese arrivals for the second half of 2018 by 670,000, to 5.1 million, but insisted that Thailand would still achieve its target of 11 million Chinese tourists in 2018.

Many commentators and local operators say, anecdotally, the effect is actually already far greater.

Chinese tourists account for around 25% of the country’s 35 million tourist visitors (2017 statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand). That number was expected to swell to 40 million, a staggering 25% rise in just three years. 20 million tourists have already visited Thailand in the first six months of 2018.

But even eternally upbeat accommodation association leaders were forced into facing the harsh reality.

The SCMP article quotes Kongkiat Khuphongsakorn, president of the Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter…

“The booking rate has fallen sharply by 80 per cent to 90 per cent at Patong beach, and by 50 per cent across the province [Phuket] after the boat disaster.”

Phuket’s weekly paper, The Phuket News, published a withering editorial “The Deadly Face of Shame” asking the question “Just how bad can Thailand handle a disaster situation?” The article tore shreds off incompetent emergency operations in the critical hours and days following the sinking of Phoenix. The article then notes the bad taste charm offensive that followed… “repeated explanations of how to claim your loved one’s body” and the “despicable handing out of ‘commiseration gift baskets’ to those overwhelmed with grief at the hospitals”.

The Thaiger wrote an opinion piece asking even more questions…

Who ticked off on the design of ‘Phoenix’ – that the boat would be suitable for carrying up to 100 passengers and crew, safely? Who checked the construction of the boat as it was being built, and then when it was completed and launched to ensure that all the requirements of the engine, construction, engineering, equipment and safety equipment were met? Who was responsible for the qualifications of the Captain and crew and their fitness to handle a vessel of this size with up to 100 passengers? What safety training did the crew receive to handle an emergency? And who ticked off on their certification of ‘Phoenix’ – the final paperwork allowing to operate at sea as a tour boat?

Tourist numbers tumble as Chinese media expose entrenched safety problems | News by The Thaiger

The Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha, like a deer in the headlights, called for an “urgent safety review”. The new Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat, followed on… “we must have safety and management procedures in place and leave no room for compromise. If we become known as a country that does not compromise on safety, it will become another plus point for us to be recognised for not being lax in our standards”.

Clearly there’s plenty of work to be done in changing that perception.

The SCMP article covers one of the most bizarre pieces of post-Phoenix PR…

More recently, it was announced that five airports across the country have opened special lanes with Mandarin-speaking immigration officials in an attempt to make the process more efficient – and presumably win back the hearts and minds of Chinese tourists.

The article also lists a litany of other reported incidents on Phuket in recent years…

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports show the number of foreign tourist related accidents in Thailand in 2017 increased by 25.12 per cent year on year, to 936, including 265 deaths. Without providing a specific number, the ministry said most of the deaths were Chinese nationals.

The Phoenix was carrying 105 people – mostly Chinese – when it faltered, capsized and sank in rough seas while returning from a snorkeling trip south-west of Phuket. It was among three vessels that headed out to sea that day in spite of a weather warnings.

SOURCE: South China Morning Post

Tourist numbers tumble as Chinese media expose entrenched safety problems | News by The Thaiger

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    harry1

    August 18, 2018 at 11:29 am

    NOTHING WILL CHANGE MAI PEN RAI Thailand has become no 1 in the world for road falalities,and most probably at sea,and if statistic were provided tourist fatalities ? my wife was run over at a gas station of all places ,spent a week in hospital cost 3000,000 baht,l asked the local police inspector what can be done for better safety,his reply was nothing? they cannot even cope with over a 1000 accidents and many disturbing death.there you have it no help from the government other than THAILAND 4.0 ? what does this mean ? and why nothing been done to improve health and safety standards by our peers ,a very sad state of affairs

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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