Chinese tourists are cancelling Phuket hotel bookings, unnerving Thai authorities and tourism-related business who are scrambling to raise the image of the island’s battered safety reputation. The cancellations are coming mostly from the tour company businesses based in China whilst the FIT (Free and Independent Travellers) are showing lingering confidence whilst the island’s systemic safety problems continue to be discussed.
The Transport Ministry, local and senior government agencies are working frantically to plug public safety loopholes to restore the confidence of Chinese tourists in wake of the cancellations of hotel bookings following the July 5 sinking of the boat ‘Phoenix’ which left 47 Chinese dead. The entire crew and Captain survived the ordeal with survivors telling tales of Thai crew members abandoning the passengers remaining inside the boat and heading for the life rafts.
But a spokesperson from the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, who spoke to The Thaiger on condition of anonymity, says the real effects will be felt in coming months as the tourists arriving now had already paid for their holidays and less inclined to cancel.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit has ordered a revamp of safety measures with tougher penalties against tour operators and boat skippers that defy safety measures.
The captain of ‘Phoenix’ is alleged to have defied forecasts of rough weather for the day when the boat left Chalong pier for an island tour to Koh Racha with 89 Chinese passengers on board.
It has also been revealed that the boat was owned by the same company which arranged the ill-fated boat trip. The owner of the company is a Thai nominee appointed by the real owner, a Chinese businessman linked to the Tha Li company which was shut down some time ago for operating so called zero-dollar package tours for unsuspecting Chinese tourists.
Tourism and sports permanent secretary Chartchai Thipsunavee claimed yesterday that between 10-15 percent of Phuket hotel bookings by Chinese tourists had already been canceled since the tragic incident.
Of the estimated 10 million Chinese tourists who visit Thailand each year, about three million of them visit Phuket.
Mr Chaiya Rapee-arphol, president of Andaman Tourism Business Association, is painting a much more gloomy picture of tourism business in the popular resort island, saying that hotel bookings in Phuket by Chinese tourists in the next two months had shrunk by up to 70 percent, with estimated loss in revenue in the tune of 42 billion baht from about 350 billion baht in revenue each year.
SOURCES: The Thaiger, Thai PBS
Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.
Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.
Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.