Chinese Consul-General raises tourist safety concerns with Phuket Governor

PHUKET: Chinese Consul-General Xu Mingliang yesterday raised the issue of tourist safety with Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut while personally welcoming the recently installed governor to office.

Xu Mingliang, a regular visitor to Phuket, heads the Chinese Consulate in Songkhla, which is also responsible for Chinese nationals in Phuket and the other Andaman provinces.

“Thailand and China have a long history of good relations. Many Chinese tourists come to Phuket year round, and just like tourists from any other nation, Chinese tourists also have problems,” Mr Xu explained.

“Most reported problems involve accidents, especially drownings. We have already posted a notice on the Chinese Consulate Thailand website warning our citizens about these problem. We have also posted travel advisories about Phuket and what Chinese visitors should be prepared for.

“Since we posted these notices, the number of accidents and deaths have fallen, compared with the number in 2011,” Mr Xu said.

Regardless, the Consul-General called for travel portals, hotels and other agencies and businesses that deal with Chinese nationals visiting Phuket to post notices in Chinese, preferably Mandarin, to warn Chinese tourists of the dangers.

“This will also help to reduce the number of problems that tourists may encounter,” he added.

Regarding the ongoing project to establish a Chinese consulate in Phuket, Mr Xu said, “I have already proposed the project to the Chinese government to consider. The number of Chinese tourists who come to Phuket is growing quickly.

China is currently one of the fastest-growing tourist source markets serving the Andaman region.

“We could provide assistance to a lot of Chinese tourists much quicker if we had a consulate here,” he explained.

The visit by Mr Xu follows a spate of deaths and near-misses among Chinese tourists in Phuket.

On August 12, Chinese tourists were rescued from a speedboat that capsized en route back to Phuket from a day trip to Phi Phi Island.

Days earlier, Chinese tourist Ji Xianqions was found drowned off Koh Hei. Police said they believed she drowned after suffering complications brought on by a pre-existing medical condition.

On August 7, Huang Pei Ying, 53, died while on a snorkeling trip to the popular day-trip island Koh Racha Yai, about 25 kilometers south of Phuket.

Chinese tourist Jin Guiping was found floating face down by her husband during a snorkeling tour near Koh Racha Yai on July 7. However, quick action by tour guides and the Royal Thai Navy resulted in a helicopter rescue that saved her life. The rescue of Mr Jin was just days after 19-year-old Chinese tourist Tianqi Li drowned at Patong Beach after going for a night swim with a female friend on June 30.

In February, 57-year-old Xianmei Wang was found floating off of Koh Hei after drowning, and Chinese tourist Wang Fang drowned while snorkeling with friends off the Hong Islands (Koh Lao Bileh) in Krabi.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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