The accident of the Phoenix Boat ashore of Phuket Island, which claimed the life of 47 Chinese tourists, provoked a string of cancellation from Chinese travellers. Thailand tourism stakeholders asked the governement to react quick…
The killing of 47 Chinese holidaymakers who died on the sunken boat in Phuket Island a few weeks ago did not get unnoticed by Chinese holiday makers. Phuket Island and generally all the south -including Krabi and Koh Samui- have seen booking from Chinese travellers collapsing in the past two weeks.
A week ago, Kongsak Kupongsakorn, president of the Southern Hoteliers’ Association, indicated that his members reported already 7,300 hotel room bookings being cancelled by Chinese travellers for the months of July and August. The wave of cancellation is getting so far unabated and now stretch into September.
Talking to the Bangkok Post, Vichit Prakobkosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, is now asking the government to waive visa fees for Chinese tourists in an attempt to stem the losses following the boat tragedy. Chinese are due to pay a visa fee equivalent of THB 1,000 (US$30).
However, is waiving a visa fee a real incentive to attract again Chinese holidaymakers? Doubts remain over the efficiency of such a measure. Would a strict enforcement of all safety regulations with serious controls undertaken by authorities not a better way to bring back confidence of worried Chinese travellers? Communicating the safety regulation to a wide public including where to report -in case of problems- would also help showing that Thailand actually really cares and takes all the necessary measures.
Last week, Phuket Governor Noraphat Plodtong indicated to set an emergency response and coordination centre will be set up to handle any future mishaps, should they arise, and work closely with another help centre in Phang Nga.
The centre would have a tourist data base to keep tracks of travellers. The tourists taking a boat would have to wear wristbands containing personal information. Surveillance cameras would also be installed at all the ports.
Tour boat operators would also be required to adhere to strict measures and procedures to ensure tourists are safe, he declared to Thai reporters.
Thailand received close to 10 million Chinese tourists in 2017 with three million of them visiting Phuket.