The unending regurgitation comes time and again, as if the message to local officials is meant to intend exactly and only what the words say – that the focus is purely on restoring tourists’ confidence, not actually taking any meaningful steps to improve safety.
If safety is improved, that would be nice, but purely coincidental.
What staggers the mind is the depth of skills and wealth of experience specifically in marine safety of the foreigners already here on Phuket – nevermind those readily available abroad – not being taken advantage of.
Since the July 5 Phoenix tour boat disaster that killed 47 Chinese tourists the suggestions made through comments, articles and even sent directly to The Phuket News has shown that the quality of understanding and the expertise to make Phuket’s marine tourism industry as safe as officials espouse they want it to be can be done right here, right now.
But what have we had instead? A steaming pile of press conferences and a couple of seminars telling local boat captains and crews how important safety is.
There are now some pretty souvenir wristbands at some piers that will help officials confirm how many tourists were on a boat if it sinks – and to make it easier to identify bodies, which in all is not a bad thought considering that in the aftermath of the Phoenix disaster no officials had a clue how many tourists were on the ill-fated boat when it sank.
With the calibre of the long-term expats on the island there is no reason Phuket cannot do something world class. Period. So why haven’t local officials asked? If the Thai education system teaches any pupil anything, it is how to copy an answer that is already provided.
Loss of face and other forms of embarrassment also spring to mind, but most likely would be the same reason that we have heard nothing about the B500 million safety plan submitted to Cabinet by Tourism & Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat.
Maybe the Cabinet is just being cautious. After all, if a lifeguard-sourcing contract for a piddling B13 million is now under investigation for alleged corruption, what would they do with half a billion?