Before the meeting Mr Sarit told The Phuket News, “We don’t have proper life guards here. When tourists get into trouble in the water, the ones who help them are hotel staff or other tourists.”
At the meeting it was proposed that lifeguards be hired from among people on Racha Yai, with support from the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (OrBorJor), which funds the lifeguards on Phuket Island.
Mr Sarit told the meeting that most tourists who drown are not wearing buoyancy aids. He added, “I think the ratio of guides to tourists is not high enough. You have one guide taking care of 30 to 40 tourists – they can’t keep an eye on all of them.
“Moreover, many tourists see the red no-swimming flags and are warned about the rip currents. But they don’t listen. They ignore the flags. They don’t care about the warnings.
“Some of them say they are good swimmers but when the time comes they can’t survive.
Governor Maitree said, “It’s about individuals. Even when we do what we can to try to prevent [drownings] they ignore it. It’s really hard.”
The meeting also discussed uncontrolled sewage on the island, with the Governor and officials visiting sewage outfalls. He ordered officials to visit the resorts that appear to be releasing the sewage.
The problem of tourists speedboats dropping anchor in coral was also discussed. Director of the Marine Department Phuripat Theerakulphisut said, “We can fine them [if we catch them]. And if they still ignore the regulations, we can cancel their operating license.”
The problems aired will be discussed in full at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday (October 15) at Provincial Hall.