Phuket hotel bookings cancellation causes concern
Phuket hotel bookings cancellation by Chinese tourists have unnerved Thai authorities and tourism-related business
The Transport Ministry and governmental agencies concerned have been working frantically to plug public safety loopholes to restore the confidence of Chinese tourists in wake of the cancellation of hotel bookings in Phuket by Chinese tourists following the July 5 sinking of Phoenix boat which left 47 Chinese dead and 46 survived the accident.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit ordered a revamp of safety traveling measures with tougher penalties against tour operators and boat skippers that defy safety measures.
Phoenix boat skipper was alleged to have defied warning of the rough sea when it left Phuket pier for an island tour with 89 Chinese passengers on board. However, it was later discovered that the boat was owned by the same company which arranged the ill-fated boat trip. The owner of the company is a Thai nominee appointed by the real owner, a Chinese businessman linked to Tha Li company which was shut down some time ago for operating the so-called zero-dollar package tour for Chinese tourists.
Tourism and sports permanent secretary Chartchai Thipsunavee said Friday that between 10-15 percent of Phuket hotel bookings by Chinese tourists had already been canceled since the tragic incident.
Of the estimated 10 million Chinese tourists who visit Thailand each year, about three million of them visit Phuket.
Mr Chaiya Rapee-arphol, president of Andaman Tourism Business Association, painted a much more gloomy picture of tourism business in the popular resort island, saying that hotel bookings in Phuket by Chinese tourists in the next two months had shrunk by up to 70 percent, with estimated loss in revenue in the tune of 42 billion baht from about 350 billion baht in revenue each year.
Phuket deputy governor Thavornrat Kongkaew, meanwhile, displayed a QR code wristband equipped with GPS system to be introduced among tourists which would enable officials to track them down in case they are caught in a boat or car accident.