Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thailand: As Tourist Deaths Increase at Resorts, Diplomats Need to Get Tough with Thai Officials

According to http://www.phuketwan.com, a tourist from India drowned yesterday (June 22) in heavy surf at Phuket's Kata Beach. It was the third drowning on the island's holiday beaches in the space of five days. 

The victim, Ramesh Chand Singhal, 49, took a body-board into the surf for a swim about 1700 hours at Kata. His lifeless body was later carried from the water towards the northern end of the beach. Although EMTs attempted resuscitate him, he died on the way to Patong Hospital. The decedent had been staying at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach. 

Yesterday's drowning of the Indian citizen followed the drowning of a man from Belgium at Laem Sing Beach and a Russian man at Patong Beach within an hour on Thursday (June 20). 

On Tuesday (June 18), a Chinese tourist drowned on a day-trip from Phuket to Racha island. On Wednesday (June 19), a Chinese man was killed when struck by the propeller of a speedboat in Pileh Bay, near Phi Phi. 

During the same monsoon onset last year, eight tourists drowned on Phuket's popular west coast beaches between mid-May and mid-July. 

COMMENT: As most of our regular readers know all too well, many of Thailand's overly-saturated beach resorts have seen far too many foreign tourists seriously injured and killed over the last two years. 

Consequently, I urge senior diplomats in Bangkok to begin issuing strongly-worded and candid travel warnings to their citizens until such time as Thai officials begin to take serious the safety and security threats that I have addressed all too often in the past. 

Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu met with Phuket officials on May 29 and made a straightforward plea for a more concerted effort to prevent the drownings of foreign tourists.  

Ambassador Guan has made the point that repeated warnings are required to prevent needless deaths. Despite last year's drowning tragedies, authorities on Phuket and many resort managements appear to have not reacted. 

Other tourists have been rescued from the surf, including a Chinese couple who were saved at Karon Beach on Friday (June 21) and two Singaporeans plucked from the water at Surin Beach yesterday (June 22). 

The high number of needless drownings is likely to be a key issue when a number of ambassadors meet with the Minister for Tourism and Sport in Bangkok on Friday (June 28). 

A British tourist was found drowned on Patong Beach on May 21, before lifeguards went on duty. 

Until April 2012, health officials in Phuket released regular monthly updates on drownings and the roadway accidents, but the reporting systems ended 14 months ago when the number of victims became all too voluminous.