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Phuket needs its reputation as a safe beach destination for families

Boy's Narrow Escape: Phuket Faces Beach Anger

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Thai boy almost became the latest Phuket drowning statistic over the weekend . . . at a beach with no lifeguards.

The whole holiday island has no lifeguards because officials continue to wrangle about contracts and tenders. In the midst of the tourist high season and all year long, the safety of visitors and residents should take priority.

The boy almost became yet another drowning statistic at the southern beach of Nai Harn on Sunday. He was plucked from the water and recovered after treatment at Vachira Hospital in Phuket City.

Some people say that because it's now high season, the water is safe, and in any case, people need to take responsibility for their own safety.

Phuketwan says that there are many people, like the eight-year-old Thai boy, who try to avoid getting into trouble, but sometimes fail. As with road safety, water safety is essential.

If this boy had drowned, would other families continue to see a day at the beach as an idyllic way to spend a holiday?

If Phuket wishes to be recognised as a safe and secure beach destination - let's repeat that - beach destination, then it needs to provide warnings, protection and a potential rescue service to comply with international standards.

Failure to do so quickly will cost Phuket dearly. Already a campaign is underway in Britain, a prime source of tourists for the island, to make sure that island officials provide and maintain proper safety on the island's beaches.

If there is no sign of action, it will not be long before a similar campaign begins in Australia, where most of Phuket's international tourists come from, and where high standards of safety at beaches are expected.

In Britain, the ''Make Phuket Safe'' campaign is being driven by the mother of a young man who drowned on Phuket earlier this year, leaving his pregnant girlfriend to fly home alone after their holiday turned to tragedy.

Phuketwan asked Lynn Creasey, mother of victim James, who drowned at Karon beach, for a reaction to the news that lifeguards had been pulled off Phuket's beaches because a contract had expired..

''To quote your words,'' she replied, 'a whole beach holiday island' marketed as an idyllic, safe, family resort should, without question, ensure that its beaches are well manned with qualified lifeguards and adequate equipment.

''It's a fact: the beaches are NOT safe and unsuspecting tourists are in danger. When will something be done?

''When I read your email, I couldn't help but feel deflated and let down as we were under the distinct impression that steps - albeit small steps - were being taken to address this serious situation.''

Pressure is likely to be intensified by diplomats in Bangkok to prevent the needless drownings of tourists and residents from being allowed to continue.

One rival holiday destination, Australia's northern state of Queensland, did not have a single drowning last summer on its beaches, which are patrolled by lifesavers.

Lynn Creasey did have one piece of good news: ''You might like to know that we are thrilled to announce the precious gift of a son, James Edward Thomas Patton, to Beth and the late James on Sunday 29 November 2009 at 01:52 weighing 8lbs 3 oz - Beth is very well and baby James is simply beautiful. As you might imagine, this tender new life has brought us great joy.

''However, I cannot tell you just how sad it is for us all that this gorgeous little boy will never know his daddy who was so special to us and would have been a wonderful father.''
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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money money money . why do you think there are no lifesavers on the beaches? there is a contract coming up and the greedy are working out their commission.

Posted by Peter J notley on December 8, 2009 08:19

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Why would anyone want to swim at a beach on Phuket unless they feel completely safe? Resorts should be upset about the lack of protection for guests. It's an issue that can't simply be ignored. It won't go away.

Posted by Angelfire on December 8, 2009 08:36

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Is a shame for phuket's officials. Like I wrote last week, what will happen, if a child drowns? And now this nearly has happened.

Posted by Gerd on December 8, 2009 13:38

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I witnessed the incident at Nia Harn beach, I live in Kata, I'm trained to give CPR etc.
This is just one of many incidents in Thailand where people trained to assist the injured have to stand back or run the risk of being sued by the victims family.
It would cost peanuts to train locals who run their businesses on the beach to give CPR.
I'm relieved to read that the boy survived.

Editor: The prospect of litigation is insignificant in Thailand and shouldn't stop people helping anywhere, really. Yes, training would help.

Posted by Anonymous on December 31, 2009 02:35


Sunday November 29, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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