Chinese drowning spurs ultimatum on Racha Island safety

PHUKET: Responding to the recent spate of Chinese tourist drownings at Racha Yai island, the head of the Conservation Club there yesterday issued the Phuket Government a safety ultimatum.

“The authorities have to put pressure on tour companies to increase tourist safety,” said Sarit Jandee, head of the club.

“The tour companies need to do more – provide life jackets to swimmers, not operate day trips on bad weather days, give their guides more safety training and also teach them to take more responsibility for their customers,” he said.

In the case of the most recent fatality – Lin Hunhing, 30, who died on Tuesday (story here) – the guide did not take any action to save the tourist, Mr Sarit alleged.

“The guide claimed that he had already warned the tourists, but they didn’t believe him,” Mr Sarit said.

“I will give the local government 15 days to find a solution. If none is forthcoming, we will take the matter into our own hands,” Mr Sarit said. “We will set our own safety conditions for the tour companies.”

According to Mr Sarit, there have been at least eight drownings at the island in the past 10 months.

Tourism is being affected, he said, as Chinese tourists begin to regard Racha Yai Island as a dangerous place.

“It’s time for officials to take action to improve the safety at Racha Yai Island,” he said as he presented his letter of complaint to Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosuttirak at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

— Saran Mitrarat

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