Not so welcome, but sadly not surprising, is that more than 200 boats – about half the fleet – failed the inspections and were ordered to rectify their issues or face the same fate.
Yet despite all the press conferences and assurances, it already looks like we will be soon heading toward the same old devil-may-care attitude about safety. And let’s focus on not just the abstract concept of safety for the sake of ‘restoring tourist confidence’, as officials at all levels have been spouting, rather than preventing the next mass slaughter of families on holidays. This is what the rest of the world sees the Phoenix sinking as: Disaster? Yes. Preventable? Yes.
The boat inspections, if they continue, are in the end nothing more than making sure passengers are in safe vehicles. This alone poses a serious challenge for Phuket officials as historically Phuket is well practiced in failing to continue any safety campaigns.
But the tell-tale sign that down the road nothing will change is that, as Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen made plain just on Tuesday, still not a single official has been found worthy of naming as even ‘under investigation’ for failing to identify the safety shortcomings that led to the disaster.
The short of it is that someone signed the boat off as safe to put to sea and there has been no effort to understand why.
What officials seem to have failed to recognise is that the problem is the gaps in the information made publicly available – as if controlling the information will command people to believe them.
The problem with this is that the people they are trying to convince are not Thai. They have no reason to believe anything Thai officials tell them. As TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn has already admitted, the ‘problem’ with restoring tourists’ confidence has been that people were already saying what they thought on Chinese social media, over which Thai officials have no control.
All this posturing by officials leaves any potential tourist wanting to keep their family safe simply choosing another destination for a holiday. Good luck with that.