herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

The Irish love Thailand - and it remains a very safe destination

Thailand is not a dangerous place by any stretch of the definition.

The combination of safety and security, and the ability to serve up an action-packed itinerary for the backpacker market - as well as more sedate honeymoon, golf and nature holidays - is one of the reasons it is one of Ireland's leading long haul holiday destinations.

With 63,000 visitors a year, of our long haul destinations, only Australia gets more visitors.

One reason it has a reputation for safety is the speedy and over-whelming response to any incidents which threaten its $28bn tourism industry,

The authorities there are treated with respect by the international criminal community.

It has been well publicised that young back packers have landed in prison for the possession of relatively small amounts of drugs, something that adds to the appeal of the place for those with more legal pursuits in mind.

STRIPPED

The news from Turtle Island, Kho Tao, that a young Jerseyman and his English companion were found stripped and murdered will have a terrible impact on this hard earned reputation.

Expect a speedy response from the authorities to whatever happened at the beach party overnight.

Thailand, under military rule, will not be putting any restrictions on the investigations by police.

Kho Tao is one of the quieter of the idyllic Thai islands, two and a half hours by ferry from the better known (and air-linked) Koh Samui.

It is too quiet to have an army base or any significant police presence, although there are some navy personnel.

Its attraction is its scuba diving and the fact you can get your PADI certification here more cheaply than elsewhere.

Think of a place two thirds the size of Inishmore. A tourist murder is not something that anyone expected.

Thailand is particularly sensitive about its tourism industry at the moment, buffeted by recent political events.

Koh Tao is in lockdown today, and the message to the rest of the world will be that they will move quickly to bring justice to the families.

If they react quickly and decisively, they have learned that people are unlikely to stop traveling as a result of the murders.

The number of Irish visitors has increased in each of the last four years, despite political protests and widespread coverage of events such as the murder of an Australian travel agent Michelle Smith in Phuket in 2012.

Thailand moved quickly to get a conviction in that case and Australian tourism to Thailand dropped only slightly - 3pc in 2013.

The coming days are of vital importance to our favourite long haul destination and the plans of our future holiday makers.

hnews@herald.ie

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