A SPATE of high-profile deaths of foreigners in Thailand have raised questions about safety in the Southeast Asian tourist haven. Now there are numbers pointing to a disturbing trend.
Last year, 54 percent more tourists (83 in total) died in Thailand compared to 2014, while those reported injured (166 in total) declined by 160 percent. The numbers were laid out in a recent report by Thailand’s Bureau of Prevention and Assistance in Tourist Fraud, according to the Bangkok Post.
These figures may seem minuscule compared to the tens of millions of tourists who visit Thailand each year — according to one estimate, Bangkok received 21.9 million foreign visitors in 2015 — but they remain a cause for concern.
Referring to the government report, the Bangkok Post said that tourists had a one in 301,204 chance of dying in the country. The risk of tourists perishing in a vehicular accident is even less – one in 735,294.
However, the majority (or 34) of the 83 tourist deaths last year was attributed to road accidents.
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This significant uptick in tourist deaths has worried Thai authorities, who have renewed their efforts in preventing such incidents.
“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,” said Sports and Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra to the Bangkok Post.
The report was seen as timely following a slew of deaths and injuries involving foreigners in the country.
Last week, the severed remains of a Spanish national turned up in Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river. The victim was supposedly suffocated, then hacked into several pieces. The police has since arrested one suspect – another Spaniard – for the murder.
Also last week, two Russian tourists were involved in a serious speedboat accident where a boat’s propeller severed one man’s leg and inflicted deep wounds to the other’s leg.
And then there is the long-running case involving two British tourists who were murdered on Koh Tao island in September 2014. The female tourist was also raped. A Thai court convicted two Burmese nationals for the crimes, but many suspect them to be mere scapegoats.
That being said, none of these incidents have or are likely to make a dent in Thailand’s ever-bustling tourism industry. Last year, Bangkok emerged again as the most popular city in Asia.