THAI TOURISM CROSSROADS – WHICH WAY NEXT?

In General News by Andrew Drummond8 Comments


AND HAVE THE DEATHS OF TOURISTS NOW TIPPED THE BALANCE?

The news that tourist deaths in Thailand have risen 54 per cent in a year is perhaps surprising. But more surprising is the fact that the fact that the statistics were released.
They came from the Bureau of Prevention and Assistance in Tourist Fraud an organisation I have never ever heard of,  but one I know which is certainly not recommended by the Thai police as somewhere to go when tourists are defrauded.

were-going to-thailand- and that's final copy

With apologies to Don Wright of the Miami News – this cartoon was originally directed at Miami and south Florida after a scathing report on violence there in Time magazine

Pongpanu Svetarundra, Sports and Tourism Ministry secretary, told the Bangkok Post:

“In the past, we did not deal with the root causes of the tourist safety problem. From now on, we will look at the issue and address it seriously.”

I am not sure the Ministry of Tourism can do much about this as  most of this issue appears to be in the sphere of the Royal Thai Police, whose time could perhaps be spent less on booking elderly foreigners for playing bridge.

According to the figures the main cause of death was road accidents (34)  Swimming and boating accidents claimed nine lives, congenital disease six, suicides four, and other causes 30.

Bureau for the assistance and prevention of tourist fraud

I am also not sure how these figures are compiled; possibly the same way in which the murder rate is – significantly haphazardly when they are actually put together.

These statistics showed only 83 foreign deaths while Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported 109 deaths of Australians alone in Thailand between July 2014 and July 2015.

Tourist buses still overtake on blind bends, boats still sink without enough life rafts and as for other causes we can but take a guess, but murder is certainly in there.

Rogue speedboat ‘captains’ still run over swimmers.

Actually warnings like this are nothing new in the media. Remember this in the Daily Mail. This was shortly after the Koh Tao murders.

Thailand-Tourist-Deaths
Two other mystery deaths are still causing concern in the UK or at least the families and friends are s determined not let the issues go away.

Nichola-Gissing-Luke2

Luke Miller with holiday companion and friend Nichola Gissing

The first of course is the drowning of Luke Miller, from Newport, Isle of Wight, in the  pool of the Sunset bar in Koh Tao.

Thai police put that one down to the fact that he drowned while intoxicated and the external injuries on his body were due to the barbed wire of the DJ booth by the pool which he must have climbed up.
His body was found in the pool in the morning. But a witness, a cleaner appears to have claimed it was not there an hour and a half earlier.

(It may or may not be significant but a friend of Montriwat Tuwichian, the brother of the ‘head man’ at Sairee Beach where Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were murdered was taking photographs as Luke’s holiday companions Nichola and James Gissing were trying to quiz local police.)
The second case is that of Liam Whitaker who died while in custody of police in the Khaosan Road, Bangkok. Prior to his death his colleague Paul Meredrew had been led on the usual route to the ATM machine to get cash, as at least 400,000 baht was needed in relation to drugs possession. Liam had bought off a tuk tuk driver and was arrested within minutes.
Meredrew described police and their efforts to extort money as ‘gangsters’.
Thai Police said he committed suicide – but the coroner in Cornwell refused to confirm that judgment, due of course to lack of police evidence and the odd circumstances prior to his death. The fuller story is here.
In both cases the bodies of Luke Miller and Liam Whitaker were embalmed in such a way that it was impossible to carry out full and proper post mortems in the UK.
In both the Whitaker case the toxicology part of the post mortem was incomplete, and in the Miller case the forensics report has still not been completed. In the Koh Tao case of course everything including the DNA tests were done and dusted in a day.
Liam’s mother has joined the chorus of families and relatives wishing to spread the word warning people about taking holidays in Thailand. She posted the following on the Justice for Luke, Facebook page.

Liam Whitaker

“This is our dear son Liam. He too went on holiday to Thailand. He & we as a family were unaware of the dangers there. Cornwall is so far removed in lifestyle!

I didn`t want him to go to Bangkok but had NO idea about the way the Thai Police treat tourists there. He fell into a trap (which some will say was his own fault) which should never exist (tuk tuk drug scam).

It is entrapment by the corrupt Thai Police Force for bribe money. The way in which his death happened is suspicious & the way which it was dealt with appalling. Life in Thailand is so cheap. Young people are sold (very cheaply by western standards) alcohol by the bucketful & drugs are so freely available to buy (although illegal, it may not seem that way).

The Thais want to take these young people`s money but do not then like it when they (the young people) become noisy & behave irresponsibly! It is all about the money whether it be alcohol, drugs, or hiring a moped or Jet Ski, whatever & you may pay with your life. The fact that these deaths are then routinely covered up & dealt with so badly is very very wrong.
We miss Liam every single minute of every single day, as I know you miss Luke, & always will. I am sorry for your loss; sorry that another family will go through this heartache.
I wish we had known what can & does happen out there & so we support wholeheartedly the campaign to raise awareness.”

This will not do a lot of damage to the tourist industry that the military coup has not already done. (It certainly will not stop the tourists who have their own reasons to go to Pattaya and Phuket.)

Westerners have been replaced by the Chinese as the main tourist to the country now – and China has much more clout over Thailand than the west has had for some 30 years.

Having covered most murders of Britons in Thailand since 2000 I had always wondered that these had had no effect on the way people thought. Tourist figures went up and up. Now however, especially since the Koh Tao debacle, there is an awareness at least that Thailand is a country where you do not want to lose your wits. Unfortunately that’s what a lot of people want to do on holiday.

Comments

  1. Vanida

    It a shame when people read this and what has happen still their ignored the warning signed yet they travel to this country, when thing go wrong everyone jumped but nothing happen, and it is soon be forgotten! Story like Koh Tao should be most scariest of all still nothing happen. For what Mr. Andrew has mentioned here in the story is just a faction of the death of foreigners, just think other nationalities that got murdered, what percentage would it be? Or the Thai authority might not think they are important enough?

  2. Carl

    The death toll of foreigners in Thailand are approaching catastrophic numbers. The Thai police incompetence and unwillingness to investigate is making it a lot worse. Every death be it natural or not is suspect, since we can’t trust the Thai police.

    I’ve alerted my lawyer and family to the dangers of Thailand and should something happen to me I’ve told them to launch a private investigation. I am not going to kill myself, make large cash withdrawals/purchases or do anything drug related what so ever.

  3. Bill webber

    If you have researched Thailand at all you will know that they have a strong stance on drugs and you should have nothing to do with them whilst out there! You would of also came across many stories of how to handle the police and the how to avoid getting in their grasp. The khao Tao misers were shocking, but it was a rare occurrence in a country where we walk around with a months salary in our pockets, imagine doing this in a local city at night whilst drunk.
    I have had many trips to Thailand and all have been fairly uneventful and none have had me deal with the police despite staying in Pattaya for most of these.
    This article was an interesting read, but as all things, it has been blown out of proportion and certain facts not spoken.
    Thailand is safer than many countries, just don’t walk around at 3a.m whilst largely drunk and don’t have anything to do with drugs(especially this). I have never felt threatened whilst out there and I see no reason to use a few tales of unexplained deaths to scare people from maybe going there. The people are the friendliest I have ever encountered on my travels and, as long as you are respectful, will never make you feel anything bar welcomed in their country.

    1. Author
      Andrew Drummond

      Well I lived in the UK for 36 years and was never attacked, burgled, or robbed. And the people there as I have re-discovered, although the ethnic mix has changed, remain among the politest and most helpful in he world, in an understated way. Thailand sells itself on its frendliness. Statistically now it certainly is among the most dangerous tourist spots for Brits, Aussie etc.
      Hannah Witheridge, David Miller, Katherine Horton, Joanne Masheder, Kirsty Jones etc etc were not murdered or raped and murdered because of any connection to drugs or drunkenness.

      All however I am confident were charmed by the friendliness of Thailand prior to their murders.
      Not sure which city you are from in, I suspect, the UK. How many times have you been mugged there? Its a rarity now as nobody carries cash any more.

      Of course it happens though – and makes headlines.

      I am interested in the information about how to handle Thai police and avoid getting into their grasp so if you have a link that would be useful. Let me know what has been blown out of proportion. Pattaya by the way used to be the busiest British Consular office in the world – that may indicate a more than a few Brits had problems there.

      And yes you can continue to come to Thailand and not get into any trouble and have a great holiday to suit your tastes……but you could too come a cropper, through no fault of your own.

    2. Vanida

      Mr. Webber, you are lucky and I’m sure many are lucky also….My husband and I travel here in 2003 and decided to stay until his murdered. I didn’t think thing will happen to us either since we live with local people and keep low profile life by operating small fish farm in the Northern of Thailand. Yes, everyone are friendly to us, my husband cook the fish, buy beer each night for local people, he even go as far as donated to local events, thing like fish, money, etc. We were all like a big family, but one time he went to the fish farm alone without me, he got murdered in cold blood, it took and 3 – 4 hours for him to died, those local people just live few feet away didn’t see anything, and Thai workers that were slept with him inside fish farm, and next bedroom didn’t see anything. …..this is Thailand, and police wrote report to prosecutor so case can be dismissed for lax of evidence….All begin with friendly smile and kind faces, and sweet talks but what behind the smile!?

    3. Emma Roach

      Blown out proportion……tell that to the families that have lost people!! Liam was a fantastic friend and two and a half years on his loss still pains me greatly!!! As it does many others. I have been to Phucket…. yes the Thai’s there were friendly and helpful but dont take ever take things on face value! I saw a road traffic accident on my taxi journey from the airport to the hotel….. car hit a moped, driver was fine but the kid on the back no helmet…. his lifeless body lay on the floor while his frends argued with the driver whose fault it was. When the flow of traffic started they picked his body up by his legs and arms and chucked him on the side of the road and carried on arguing…..SHOCKING!! i tried desperatly to get out of the taxi to help and held in by my friends.. telling me that getting involved would get in a whole world of trouble i didnt need… really?!?!?!?! a human unable to help another human..thats the world now.
      So you may have had a good trip to Thailand, lucky you! But dont push aside that its a dangerous country…. its robbed too many lives. Remember loved ones are reading too.

  4. Hugh Cameron

    Bill Webber take your blinkers off.

    For example, in a long business career I have never had any problem with a Muslim person. Does that mean I close my eyes to the atrocities committed in the name of Islam. Certainly not. I suggest you take your blinkers off and realise you have been lucky. Muslims love me and Buddhists love me but I have to tell you that does nothing towards excusing them for their joint atrocities. You have been lucky as I have too. That is all there is to your post. Pure luck.

    An interesting statistic out yesterday, Thailand has 50 % more gun deaths than Philippines, the 2 highest in Asia.

  5. A long time resident

    83 foreign deaths means they do not include the mass graves of Rohinyas found…..
    I feel that those 83 might be just the Phuket statistics….

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