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Yesterday, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports announced that it had a new safety plan that was going to save Thailand tourism and win back the hearts and minds of foreigners after the recent murder of 60-year old Perth travel agent, Michelle Smith.

The problem is that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Minister, Chumpol Silpa-archa, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, are far removed from reality and only care about getting tourists to return at any cost.

Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports must be shaking in their collective boots since the normal “No impact of tourism” mantra isn’t being shouted from the mountaintops.

But, as usual, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is clueless and only concerned about the almighty tourism baht.
From the Official Thai Government News Agency, the National News Bureau of Thailand, Public Relations Department, Safety for tourists in Thailand to be significantly improved:

BANGKOK, 22 June 2012 (NNT)-The Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MOTS) is trying to raise confidence in the tourism sector about the safety for tourists while the police are now pursuing the suspect killing an Australian tourist in Phuket two nights ago.

And, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports lame attempt will not raise anyone’s confidence level.

Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports Suwat Sidthilaw and his deputy, Mrs. Thanitha Sawetsila Manichot, as well as Tourist Police commander Police Major-General Adisorn Ngamjitsuksri joined in a press conference to publicize a new campaign that aims at keeping tourists out of harm’s way.

Unless the Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to hand out flak vests and Kevlar helmets at Immigration when foreign tourists arrive, there is no campaign.  This is all just for show with no real action to be taken.

The campaign will provide tourists with important tips and knowledge on how to avoid risks. Tourists are also encouraged to file complaints, if any, to a new Bureau of Tourist Assistance and Fraud Prevention which has just been set up by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

The honest tips can be seen online.  The BEST places to go for real information are at the following country sites from the USA, England and Australia:

U.S. State Department

American Embassy Bangkok Thailand

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Any travel advisory coming from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports or any other Thai Government Agency will be watered down, sugar coated, inaccurate, incorrect, or totally false.

The Bureau of Tourist Assistance and Fraud Prevention sounds good but will be nothing more than a location for tourists to file complaints about jet-ski scams, muggings, bill padding, hotel room thefts, and everything else that they would normally report to the Thailand Tourist Police.

The MOTS explained that the new office will help raise tourists’ confidence in the safety level in Thailand and is also in response to the government’s plan to raise income from tourism to 2 trillion baht by 2015.

The new Ministry of Tourism and Sports office will do absolutely nothing to raise tourists’ confidence.  Not until all the jet ski scammers are behind bars, the corrupt Thai Police Officers are fired, the corrupt Thai Government Officials that are currently in office are removed, and the drugs and gangs are eradicated, will tourists get a warm and fuzzy feeling about going to Thailand.

You can also see that this has little to do with safety and more to do with the silly notion that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports will actually generate 2 trillion baht by 2015.  A dream that no one will ever be able to verify since it is impossible to determine what each and every tourist spends while on holiday in Thailand.

The new campaign is being implemented in 8 pilot sites frequented by tourists, namely Khao San road, floating markets in Ayutthaya province and Hua Hin district, Patong beach in Phuket, Santisuk market in Hat Yai, a ferry wharf on Samui Island, and walking streets in Pai district of Mae Hong Son and the central district of Chiang Mai. The campaign will be expanded to other destinations in the near future.

Just goes to show how out of touch with Thailand tourism the Ministry of Tourism and Sports really is.  Hat Yai?  Mae Hong Son?  Pai? Ayutthaya?  Hua Hin?

Where is Pattaya?  Why not Kata and Karon beaches in Phuket?  After all, the murder took place on Kata, not Patong.

This campaign will die an early death and will do nothing to help tourists and never be expanded.  This is all show and no go trying to give the impression that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports cares about the safety and security of foreign tourists.  Couldn’t be further from the truth.

Police Major-General Adisorn also said that the tourist police will continue to step up safety for visitors to Thailand. A network of volunteers, who are taxi and tuk tuk drivers, have joined the police in helping to disseminate safety information to travelers.

Continue to step up safety for visitors to Thailand?  When have the Thailand Tourist Police ever dine anything proactive for tourist safety?  I have never, ever seen the Thai Tourist Police at beaches in Koh Samet, Jomtien, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Phuket, Krabi or Pattaya.  In Hua Hin, I walked past the Tourist Police building at least twice per day going to and from the beach while metal detecting.  I never saw anyone enter or exit the building, never saw the Thai Tourist Police actually on the beach or in the tourist shopping area.  The only time I saw the Thai Tourist Police was when they were sitting out back of their office eating lunch.

He called on all sectors to put an effort into making it safe for tourists, which means collaborations to guarantee safety on food, belongings, lives and even to protect them from natural disasters, given that 70% of travelers are now traveling on their own.

More fluff from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.  Nothing will ever change as long as there are corrupt Thai Police and corrupt Thai Politicians that benefit from the ripping off of tourists, muggings of tourists, and scamming of tourists.  If I were to hear or read about massive raids in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket and hundreds, if not thousands, thrown into jail, then I might start to feel a little safer.  But, until this happens, it is the same shit, different day.

The almost English online news media has done little to report the other knife attack that happened the same night that Michelle Smith was brutally murdered.  The reason – he didn’t die and there is no Embassy pressure and global news making Thailand look bad.  You can read it – British tourist stabbed in Thailand near travel agent murder.  Does anyone think that the two stabbings may have been from the same attackers?  Or, is there a gang on Phuket that go around stabbing tourists?

This new campaign from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is meaningless and shows how worthless this Thai Government Agency is.

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