Safety warning issued to Chinese tourists after drownings in Thailand

Embassy tells travellers to take particular care in southern resorts of Phuket, Phang-Nga and Krabi

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 10:39pm

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok has issued a safety warning to tourists travelling to Thailand during next month’s “Golden Week” holiday, after six drowning incidents involving Chinese visitors there in August.

Sea activities pose the highest safety risks for tourists in Thailand, the embassy said, urging visitors to take particular care when visiting three popular destinations in the south of the country.

Golden Week, in the first week of October, coincides with the end of the monsoon season at Phuket, Phang-Nga and Krabi. The weather can still be changeable, sea winds strong and the water conditions complex, the embassy’s warning notice said.

Chinese visitors turn away from Thailand after tourist boat disaster

About 7 million Chinese will travel abroad during Golden Week, up from more than 6 million during the same period last year, according to Chinese travel website Ctrip.

For the first time, the company said, its bookings show that Japan has surpassed Thailand in popularity as a destination for the October holiday.

Thailand has been in the top three overseas destinations for China’s outbound tourists for a long time, behind Hong Kong and Macau, according to China Tourism Academy, an official research institute under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

In the first half of this year, 5.93 million Chinese visited Thailand, up 26 per cent from the same period last year, Ctrip said.

Chinese tourists’ love of Thailand rocked by Phuket boat tragedy, but airports are working hard to win them back

In August Thailand opened dedicated lanes for Chinese tourists in five airports across the country, staffing each one with Mandarin-speaking officials.

However, the growth of mainland tourism to Thailand may have been undermined in the summer holiday period, following the deaths of nearly 50 tourists, most of them Chinese, when their boat sank after it was hit by five-metre (16 feet) waves in early July.

According to another China travel agency, Lvmama.com, which did not provide more details, many mainlanders had adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude about travelling to Thailand following that incident.

The warning notice from the Chinese embassy reminds travellers that waves can reach more than two metres during monsoon season, from May to October, and that swimming and sea trips are not appropriate.

The embassy also reminded Chinese tourists to follow the rules while in Thailand and stay out of the water when authorities put red flags on beaches, indicating the marine situation is dangerous.

Thailand holds ceremony in honour of 47 Chinese boat victims

On August 21, a Chinese woman died while snorkelling in Phuket, according to news website Huanqiu.com.

Her mother, who had stayed on the beach, contacted police after waiting a long time for her return. She then watched as rescuers pulled her daughter from the water unconscious and tried to resuscitate her. Her daughter was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

In another incident near a Phuket beach on August 13, according to the same website, a 30-year-old Chinese woman drowned when she was dragged away by strong waves. Her companion, a 33-year-old Chinese man, was rescued.