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  1. #1

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    dirtydog's Avatar
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    Phuket Tourism: Will it die from all the deaths?

    Phuket Tourism: Will it die from all the deaths?


    PHUKET: It has been a dire week for tourists, one that sends a clear message to the authorities that they really do need to start addressing critical issues in Phuket.

    Last Saturday, the body of a Chinese tourist was found washed ashore at Kata Beach. He had been swimming at Karon Beach three days earlier.

    On Sunday, just days after lifeguards boosted patrols at Karon Beach, yet another tourist this time a Russian drowned off that same stretch of sand.

    Later that night, two Dutchmen walking down a street in Patong were beaten by minivan drivers while a policeman standing by was rendered helpless by associates of the thugs. Even a warning shot fired into the air had little effect. The beating stopped only when the perpetrators decided to stop.

    Then a foreigner had his throat slashed and died on the private luxury estate where he was staying.

    If the authorities want to learn how fickle tourism can be, they are certainly on the right track. Drownings, beatings and murders are a fine recipe for killing off a hospitality industry.

    Violent crime alone killed the industry in Jamaica, which decades ago ruled as the destination of choice in the Caribbean. For more than 20 years now, that tropical isle has been struggling to regain its status as a world-class tourist Paradise.

    St Croix, with it's multiple golf course murders, Ibiza, Acapulco the Grenadines and Goa have all been through, or are currently suffering from, the same.

    What seems evident is that tourists do not think in statistical terms of what actually might kill them on holiday, or even how or who would be responsible if they were to die.

    They drink, drive motorbikes without helmets, swim at red-flagged beaches and even, according to Phuket's police, commit lots of suicides. What people remember when they read or hear of these things are the key words: "Tourist", "Phuket" and "Death".

    Noting that drownings are the fault of the tourists for ignoring red flags, which is often the case, is not good enough. Phuket will need to up its game in lowering the body count.

    Noting that so many murder victims were criminals themselves again, often the case only begs the question: "Why are so many people like that attracted to Phuket?" Or, "How do they keep getting into Thailand?"

    And, of course, police reports of death after death of foreigners by "suicide" cannot help but prompt the question: "Why so much of this in Paradise?"

    Public image and reputation are built largely on current trends and facts, no matter how inconvenient. 'Visit Thailand' road shows cannot succeed where 'Danger' is the overriding perception in the target market.

    And blaming the media for reporting violence carries with it the ugly assumption that, were it not for such reports, the market could be fooled.

    Phuket NEWS: Phuket Tourism: Will it die from all the deaths?

    Phuket's Riskiest Beach: Where the Killer Rips Pull and Drown

    PHUKET: Resorts appear to be reluctant to accept responsibility for helping to prevent drownings on Karon beach in the monsoon season.

    Only a few sent representatives to a meeting with local officials and lifeguards this week.

    And one of the resort representatives said they thought it was the responsibility of the booking agents to warn customers about the dangers - which is fine, if the resorts don't mind losing customers to other, safer destinations.



    Somchai Sinlapanon, president of the Kata-Karon Hotels Association, dropped by at the meeting but stayed for only a few minutes.

    More interested were the beach vendors who turned up to hear an expert view on what should happen next at the beach where 13 people have drowned since April last year, including three last month.

    Australian water safety expert David Field, who has been coaching and training on Phuket for 10 years, said that Australia had a history of 104 years of lifesaving at beaches, so Phuket could not expect its culture to change overnight.

    But he said that the lifeguards on the beaches this year were now genuine lifeguards. In past years, they could only be called beach boys.

    ''It's your beach,'' he told the gathering. ''If you want tourists to come, you must make sure it is a safe beach.''

    During the monsoon season, Karon looked beautiful, but it was dangerous, he said. There were four types of deadly rip currents that occur - and Karon had two types, fixed and travelling rips, he said.

    Two rips that were fixed and that were dangerous all year long could be found in the sea near Karon's central monument, and in the sea near the Karon roundabout, he said.

    ''These two spots are unsafe to swim all year long and need to be avoided by swimmers at all costs,'' Mr Field added.

    Other rips moved along the beach, and it was the job of lifeguards and others on the beach to pinpoint them and make sure they could be avoided by swimmers, he said.

    ''The lifeguards are doing very well,'' he said. ''Within two years, the ones on Phuket will be the best lifeguards in all of South East Asia.''

    He said a brochure prepared by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation in six languages - english, russian, chinese, korean, japanese and german - would help enormously.

    ''But we need to educate visitors at every opportunity,'' he said.

    An umbrella lounger vendor asked how she could help.

    ''Can you swim?'' asked Mr Field. ''No,'' she responded.

    ''You cannot swim but you can be a lifesaver if you learn the dangerous spots and warn people, and help to put out red flags. You can also blow a whistle when you see people going in.''

    Mr Field said that lifeguards planned to hold courses for beach vendors that would enable them to learn cpr so they could be more active in helping.

    The resorts, however, still appear reluctant - except for a few exemplary role-models - to accept that they have a duty to inform their guests on arrival that the beach can be deadly.

    It was suggested that a major event should be held before every monsoon season to make sure everyone understood that saving lives was a community responsibility, and that everyone with a connection to the beach had a role to play.

    The lifeguard's job is not easy. One lifeguard who risked his own life to drag a Russian man from the surf has not entered the water at Nai Thon since. It is to hoped that relocation to another beach will eventually help him recover his confidence.

    Despite the best efforts of the lifeguard, the Russian man later died in an intensive care unit.


  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    Agent_Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    Phuket Tourism: Will it die from all the deaths?
    Nope.

    But the thieving jet ski guys and tuk tuks do plenty of damage.

  3. #3
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    I've voted with my feet and wallet; 6 years in Thailand and Phuket is one of the few places I have not seen; deliberately after reading about the scams and crime. Even Pattaya appears to be safer.

  4. #4
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    Nope. These deaths are pretty much unknown outside of Thailand, I really doubt the media in AUS, UK, or US is even covering these.

  5. #5
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    Every year, I have less interest in Phuket!!! It is really going downhill fast, and the Govt. does not seem to care one bit??

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Have no interest in Phuket any more, and I was a regular from the 80's onwards.

    Not the deaths, that happens in Pattaya and Samui, but the constant rip offs are a far bigger put off.

  7. #7
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    phuket is dangerous

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