THAILAND TOURISM SAFETY CONCERNING FOREIGN DIPLOMATS – According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) some 22 million visitors entered Thailand last year but with the growing number of tourist deaths and accidents foreign diplomats are increasingly concerned for the welfare of their citizens.
Yesterday’s report of two bus crashes, one that killed 19 passengers and the recent train derailment injuring over 30 tourists comes as little surprise to many foreign diplomats or expatriate residents; as road, rail and sea accidents are occurring on a daily basis and where the Government and local authorities appear unconcerned.
This morning we receive reports of severe weather storms, with high winds and rough seas surrounding the holiday island of Phuket and telephoned one of our sources to determine if tour boat operators were taking the advice of the meteorology department by not putting to sea.
“I took a trip down to Chalong pier this morning. Chalong is situated in the northern part of the island and it’s where nearly 50 large speedboats are anchored; which are used to take tourists to nearby islands such as Phi Phi or Racha.
The weather, first thing this morning, was atrocious with high winds and monsoon rains. It was reported that waves were reaching 3 or 4 meters high and nearly all foreign owned pleasure boats were safely anchored in the bay.
As usual the Thais were transporting hordes of Chinese tourists to the pier where they were packed onboard the speedboats. I could see life jackets being handed out but each of the boats were seriously being overloaded.
I casually asked one Thai boat guy where they were heading and he told me the destination was Phi Phi Island; some 45 minutes on a calm day.
It’s likely, if these boats make their destination that it’ll take a strong stomach and at least an hour and a half to get there.
You would have to have a severe lack of marbles to take tourists out in these conditions but as usual the Thais are more concerned with making money than they are over tourist safety.” Anonymous Source
We asked a number of sources on Phuket as to the conditions of the roads and all agreed that many of the roads were in a poor state of disrepair. This makes driving a motorbike extremely perilous and even more so considering the way in which the Thais drive.
We counted six tour bus crashes this year alone in Phuket and nearly all of them were due to brake failure leaving tourist organisations to believe that Thai officials are not doing enough to ensure Thai tour companies are maintaining their vehicles to an acceptable international standard and that driver training is almost non-existent.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released a report that listed Thailand as having one of the world’s worst road safety track records – see who report
With traffic laws rarely enforced by police tourists have a tendency to follow the Thai trend of not wearing a crash helmet whilst operating a motorbike. As a result there are an increasing number of accidents, some fatal, involving tourists and motorbikes.
In a recent and graphic article we highlighted the dangers of renting a motorbike and driving without a helmet. You can read the article below; but be warned it contains graphic pictures of dead foreigners involved in motorbike accidents.
Recently, due to the increasing number of Chinese tourist’s deaths, attributed to poor safety standards, the Chinese Ambassador met with Thai officials and didn’t hold back on his criticism. It was reported that the Thais felt insulted and that the Chinese Ambassadors remarks were extremely undiplomatic.
The Chinese Ambassador stated that the time had passed on being diplomatic and the Thais needed telling straight in order to highlight the problems in order to find measurable solutions to reduce the number of tourist related deaths.
Thailand is facing mounting pressure from all quarters to change its ways, including introducing greater safety measures, not just for tourists but also its own citizens.
On the international scene diplomats are calling on the Thai Government to stamp out human trafficking, slavery and forced prostitution or face a listing as the world’s worse abuser of human rights next year.
As Thailand will soon realise, if it doesn’t change its ways it could well face strict UN sanctions and see tourism expire. With exports and tourism being the driver of the Thai economy any such sanctions or restrictions on tourism will have a devastating effect on the Thai economy.
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