According to the statement, signed by Tourism & Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul and dated last Friday (June 7), the ministry is concerned for the welfare of tourists who might be suffering from jet lag, or are otherwise tired after a long flight.
Chinese tourists who love water sports are the main target for the new campaign, which is a response to an increase in marine accidents including drowning.
Recent data showed that visitors were more at risk the day immediately following their arrival in Thailand, one official told TTR Weekly.
“They need time to acclimatise so we are recommending that agents adjust their programmes so diving and marine activities start a day later,” the official said.
The official also noted the news was “sensitive” as it might interpreted as negative to Thailand’s tourism industry. (See story here.)
“Tour programmes should avoid organising water activities especially marine activities and diving for tourists in the first day of arriving in Thailand for them to adjust. The tourism operators should question the tourists’ health and provide tips on how to use water sports equipment clearly,” the statement read. (See official request here.)
An official at the ministry’s Bureau of Tourism Safety Standard confirmed to The Phuket News that from Jan 1 to June 12 this year, 54 international tourists involved in water-safety incidents, in which 13 tourists were injured and 41 died from drowning.
Chinese tourists were involved in 30 incidents – with 11 injured and 19 killed – the highest of all nationalities.
Russian, American, British, German, Canadian, Malaysian, Indian and French tourists were also included in the chilling statistics, reported TTR Weekly.
“Close to 12 million Chinese visit Thailand and this year the country will welcome 34.4 million tourists if forecasts are accurate. It is inevitable that the accident rate will rise along with the massive increases in tourist arrivals,” noted the TTR Weekly report.
Phuket, the country’s top beach destination, up to June 6 this year recorded the most cases with 21 sea accidents followed by Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui (19), Krabi and its popular islands, include Phi Phi Island (18) and Chonburi, which includes Pattaya (14), the report added.
The call for preventing more deaths and injuries on the water comes in a week that saw 20 Chinese tourists escape injury as their speedboat rammed – and mounted – another speedboat while the tourists were returning to Phuket from Phi Phi Island on Sunday (June 11), followed by three Chinese tourists rescued from strong surf at Patong Beach on Monday. (See stories here and here.)