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Tourist numbers tumble as Chinese media expose entrenched safety problems

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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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Phuket

Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket

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Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket | The Thaiger

A man has been found dead inside a pickup truck with a coal burner also inside the vehicle in Rassada this morning. Police were notified of the situation in Soi Muen Sri in Rassada.

Police and emergency responders arrived to find the man’s body in the parked pickup truck. The man was identified as 28 year old Weerawat Pakdeewirot from Phuket.

A coal burner was also found inside the vehicle. A suicide note addressed to his girlfriend was also found. The letter stated that he was facing financial problems. His body was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital.

Police says that Mr Weerawat is a CCTV camera and internet contractor. His home was only 50 metres from the scene. Yesterday locals noticed his pickup parked at the scene. Today they saw the pickup in the same location and went to check out the situation.

Police are continuing their investigation.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket | News by The Thaiger Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket | News by The Thaiger Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket | News by The Thaiger Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket | News by The Thaiger Man found dead in pickup with charcoal burner in Rassada, Phuket | News by The Thaiger

 

 

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Phuket

Injured Brahminy Kite (bird) rescued in Karon

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Injured Brahminy Kite (bird) rescued in Karon | The Thaiger

An injured Brahminy Kite has been rescued by locals in Karon, Phuket.

The mature Brahminy Kite was found in Karon this week. Locals who found the bird contacted the head of Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area, Pongchart Chueahom.

The Brahminy Kite had a wound similar to a bite wound under its wing. It was unable tp fly. It is now being treated at a pet hospital in Thalang until it is ready to be set free.

The Brahminy Kite is a protected species in Thailand.

The brahminy kite (Haliastur indus), also known as the red-backed sea-eagle in Australia, is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors, such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers. They are found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia. They are found mainly on the coast and in inland wetlands, where they feed on dead fish and other prey. Adults have a reddish-brown body plumage contrasting with their white head and breast which make them easy to distinguish from other birds of prey – Wikipedia

Injured Brahminy Kite (bird) rescued in Karon | News by The Thaiger Injured Brahminy Kite (bird) rescued in Karon | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage

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Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | The Thaiger

Lt Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, the Commander of the Fourth Army Region (Southern) in Nakhon Si Thammarat, came to Phuket to visit residents over water shortage issues in Rassada.

Lt Gen Pornsak says “we were contacted from the Phuket Governor that Phuket is facing serious water shortages. We have come here with water trucks to help residents to join with other government agencies in Phuket.

There are now 23 water trucks which are delivering free water to residents around Phuket. However we need cooperation from every one to save water.”

Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | News by The Thaiger Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | News by The Thaiger Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | News by The Thaiger Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | News by The Thaiger Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | News by The Thaiger Army commander visits Phuket residents to discuss water shortage | News by The Thaiger

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