Phuket boosts security after Bali bomb blasts

PHUKET: Police are stepping up security across the island following three suicide bomb blasts in Bali on Saturday that claimed at least 19 lives and injured 133 people, Pol Maj Gen Decha Budnampeth, the new Phuket Provincial Police Commander, told the Gazette today.

He called for tourists not to be put off by seeing a greater police presence on the street.

“I would like to tell tourists who come to Phuket that if seeing police working and checking places disturbs your stay, please understand that we are doing this for your own safety.

“Please help us by cooperating, and understand that our main concern is security,” he added.

Pol Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Superintendent of Kathu Police Station, confirmed that he had received orders from both Maj Gen Decha and Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura to boost security in Patong.

“We are setting up checkpoints at many places in Patong. I think the chance of a bombing here is very slim, but we are not taking any chances,” Col Teeraphol said.

He said that officers will coordinate regular inspections with entertainment business owners.

“We have asked them to report any bags or suitcases left unattended direct to the police. It’s good that we already do not allow vehicles on Soi Bangla at night, which makes it safer for tourists,” Col Teeraphol added.

Phuket Tourist Association President Pattanapong Aikwanich said he expected Saturday’s bombings to have long-term effects on tourism in Asia.

“Australians are the main tourists for Bali. In the short-term, following the bombings in Bali, they will turn to other destinations, such as Phuket.

“However, this will have a negative long-term affect on tourism throughout the region. Nowadays, when tourists want to visit a country, they look at the image of the entire region, such as Asia. If they think it is not safe, they will not come,” he said.

However, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, Assistant Director of the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), believes the bombings will not have a great affect on tourism to Phuket.

He said that about 50% of long-haul tourists who visit Phuket during the high season, who are mainly European and Scandinavian, visit other destinations in the region.

“Bali and Phuket have similar geography. If tourists choose to visit ‘combined destinations’, they would [now] prefer to visit Phuket and a nearby country, such as Cambodia or Vietnam,” he said.

K. Siripakorn also said that more attention should be given to the affect on tourism of the escalating violence in Thailand’s southernmost provinces.

He added that the TAT has launched a campaign to explain to potential tourists abroad the situation in the Deep South, and to point out that it does not affect tourists in Phuket.

Phuket News
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