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Phuket officials rush to restore visitor confidence following tourist murder

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/National Council for Peace and Order, Phuket Province

Officials on the southern island of Phuket are pulling out all the stops in a bid to restore tourist confidence, following the murder of Swiss national Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf last week. The victim, who’d been visiting Phuket under the island’s sandbox scheme, was found dead at Ao Yon waterfall last Thursday.

The Bangkok Post reports that the murder has left local authorities and tourism operators anxious about the fate of the island’s re-opening scheme. Under the sandbox programme, Phuket has been open to vaccinated foreign tourists since July 1. Visitors must spend at least 14 days on the island, at an approved hotel, and undergo multiple Covid-19 tests, before being free to visit the rest of the country.

In a rush to protect the island’s reputation, police managed to find the murder suspect just 2 days after the discovery of the victim’s body. 27 year old Phuket resident, Teerawat Thothip, was arrested and has allegedly confessed to murdering Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf. However, despite the swift arrest and confession, concerns remain that the incident, which has been widely reported internationally, could harm the island’s reputation, and jeopardise the sandbox scheme.

Narong Woonciew, the governor of Phuket, has vowed to increase security for visitors to the island.

“The province and all stakeholders are working together to step up security for tourists. We are thankful to everyone working to restore confidence in the Phuket sandbox scheme.”

According to the Bangkok Post report, Yuthasak Supasorn from the Tourism Authority of Thailand has thanked police for the quick arrest, adding that it’s too early to tell if the incident will negatively affect the sandbox scheme. The manager of Patong Resort, Phurit Matwongsa, says the damage should be limited, given the swift arrest of a suspect, adding that such an incident should never have occurred and preventive measures must be implemented to protect tourists.

However, he goes on to say that the ongoing rise in Covid-19 infections could be proving more of a deterrent for visitors as various countries issue travel advisories against Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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