Sweden mulls issuing travel warnings

PHUKET CITY: The Swedish Consulate in Phuket and the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok are considering posting warnings on their official websites, advising Swedish women of potential dangers when traveling in Thailand.

The move follows sexual assaults and killings of female foreign tourists in recent years, most recently the stabbing murder of 26-year-old Swedish tourist Hanna Backlund on March 15 at Mai Khao Beach.

“We are considering posting a general warning on our website addressing the dangers one faces when traveling in Thailand,” said General Consul Christina Palm from the Swedish Consulate in Phuket.

Other countries have already taken such measures. “We continue to receive reports of sexual offenses committed against foreign women and men,” the British Embassy warns on its website.

“Female travelers in particular should maintain a high state of personal awareness during their time in Thailand,” the warning states.

Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit was recently quoted as saying Miss Backlund’s murder had hurt Phuket’s reputation. Tourism is the biggest earner of foreign currency for Thailand, bringing in more than US$16 billion in 2007.

Other violent attacks against female Swedish tourists in recent years include the rape of a 12-year-old girl and the attempted rape of an adult woman, both on Koh Samui in January 2006.

At a recent press conference, Thai Tourist Police Commander Maj Gen Choochart Suwannakom was quoted as saying his department would follow through with a plan to distribute whistles to female foreign tourists at beach destinations as a way of ensuring their safety.

A Danish police officer at the Nordic Police Liaison Office in Bangkok described the idea as “pathetic”.

“Thailand is so full of noise pollution that no-one is going to hear a whistle going off,” he said.

Phuket News

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