TOURISM and Sport Minister Weerasak Kowsurat yesterday urged agencies to sort out a series of problems before they can send a convincing message to the world that Thailand is still a safe destination for tourists.
Weerasak was responding to the Phoenix boat accident that killed 47 Chinese tourists earlier this month off the southern resort island of Phuket.
There are many issues that authorities should review and rectify to help improve tourists’ confidence in Thailand as a safe destination, Weerasak told The Nation in an interview.
He said authorities should complete the first phase of the process by paying all compensation that is due to the relatives of victims and return them to their country.
Authorities should then try to figure out what happened to the boats by retrieving the wreckage for inspection. Concerned agencies should collect statistics nationwide about boat accidents and study international standards for tour boats that can be compared to Thailand.
He also urged authorities to explain that the cause of the accident was not related to so-called zero-dollar tours or nominee ownership in tourism. “[People] should not generalise. We should be sympathetic to those who lost their loved ones. Money cannot bring them back,” he said.
He also urged authorities to speed up the completion of a safety standards manual to improve confidence.
“If we can manage all the issues we then can send a single, convincing message to the world, the Chinese, and local people and ask them to have confidence in us,” he said. The number of Chinese tourist visitors to Phuket has dropped sharply in the wake of the tragedy.