Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong headed a meeting yesterday (July 14) joined by Vice Admiral Somnuk Preampramot, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, based at Cape Panwa, and no less than the Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Yuthasak Supasorn.
Also present were the heads of relevant government agencies and representatives of hotel operators and tour operators.
Mr Yuthasak said that the response operations and the support provided to the victims and their families were performed well. “You did good, were fast, efficient,” he said.
“However, information about this is not available to the Chinese public. There are some dissatisfaction,” he added.
“In the past year, 9.8 million Chinese tourists came to Thailand, generating B500 billion in tourism revenue, but now Chinese tourists are concerned about emergency rescue systems in place and there are now some cancellations into Thailand.
“We would like to ask all sectors to provide positive information about Phuket so that tourists know and help to create a positive tourism image,” he added.
Mr Yuthasak pointed out that social media in China – over which the Thai Government has no control – was where the damage was done.
“The urgent report we have received from China is that there is very little news in terms of communication, there is much more information on social media about the disaster,” he said.
“Next week will take the media from China to learn about the management of marine tourism in Thailand to build confidence and our tourism image,” Mr Yuthasak added.
“In this situation, what we need to do is to ensure that tourists are confident and communicate information in the same direction, and I believe that tourism in Phuket will return and the tourists will come back to Phuket as they did before,” he said.
Governor Norraphat called on the TAT to provide accurate information on how many room bookings and tours had been cancelled.
“We ask for accurate information so that it can be analysed as preliminary information to help solve the problem. Measures must be taken under the Prime Minister’s policy. The correct information must be obtained,” he said.
Governor Norraphat also called for better integration of the Thai Meteorological Department, which issues weather alerts, with radio media and television.
“Weather conditions must be reported hourly 24 hours a day. There must be a call centre available for updates at all times. All boats must pass inspection at checkpoints, and at Chalong Pier officials will check to ensure three aspects are covered: the boat, the captain and the passengers. The province will also carry out random inspections to make sure boats meet the prescribed standards,” he said.
“Now Phuket has set up a marine rescue centre at on Koh Yao (about 15 kilometres east of Phuket) to better respond to emergencies with speedboats, patrol boats and other vessels on call ready to help,” he added.
“All this is needed not only for the benefit of Phuket. This is an important national interest,” Governor Norraphat added. – PhuketNews