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Russians on Phuket: who warns them where and when to swim?

Phuket Drownings: How to Overcome Disasters

Thursday, November 11, 2010
UPDATE

FOUR deaths from drowning in October have taken Phuket's tally for the year to 28 so far compared to 50 for the same period in 2009.

Phuketwan Opinion

THE PHUKET Lifeguard Club and Phuketwan will be visiting Russian tour agencies next week to help them to save their customers from being flown home in holiday coffins.

Awareness and shared responsibility are what's required if Phuket beaches are to overcome the stigma of tourist drownings and offer a more completely secure and safe year-round beach break to a global travelling audience.

''We have to try everything,'' said the chief of the lifeguards, Prathayut ''Nut'' Cheryon, who has been at the forefront of moves to improve safety at Phuket's beaches since April.

Two swimmers died on Monday at Karon beach, deadliest of Phuket's beaches during the monsoon season. The twin tragedies came just one day after the conclusion of the annual world women's beach volleyball series on Phuket.

That dramatic contrast emphasises within the space of 24 hours the difference between Phuket at its best, and at its worst.

Which is the real Phuket? The safe, enjoyable Phuket, or the deadly Phuket?

It's now up to the entire Phuket community to demonstrate to the world a commitment to responsible, safe tourism.

The two deaths on Monday follow many others in recent years on Karon especially, with more drownings at other, equally celebrated Phuket beaches: Patong, Kata, Nai Harn, Surin, Nai Thon.

To encourage people to come to Phuket for beach holidays all year round is one thing: to fail to adequately warn those same visitors about the dangers on some beaches on some days between April and December is reprehensible.

People who come on beach holidays to Phuket plan to swim at the island's celebrated beaches. Without comprehensive warnings about the dangers, they will expect to do what they have paid to do: enjoy a swim in the Andaman Sea.

A catalogue of the horrifying needless drownings on Phuket and along the Andaman coast includes many Russians, which is why Khun Nut is keen to talk to the tour agents next week.

If a message about beach safety is being delivered - and it certainly should be - then it is not getting through.

Everyone in Phuket's tourism industry has an obligation to make the island as safe and secure as possible. Needless deaths must be avoided.

One sign of the way airlines, tour agents, resorts and lifeguards should react came at Nai Thon earlier this month, where another Russian died.

The resort where the tourist had been staying, newly opened and keen to protect the safety of its guests, has now undertaken to produce a Russian-language brochure - and to warn all guests on arrival at reception during the monsoon season - of the dangers at the local beach.

Only with that kind of attitude spreading across the entire island can all tourists be properly protected and saved . . . along with Phuket's reputation.
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Comments

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I think this is a really good idea.
'We have to try everything,'' said the chief of the lifeguards, Prathayut ''Nut'' Cheryon.
Yes Nut, you have to try everything, and keep trying - get that message across!

I'd still also like to see the lifeguards using a bullhorn with a recorded message on it - maybe a message in a few different languages - including Thai - to physically get people out of the water.
If the red flags go up, followed by lifeguards waving/bullhorn messages then people may start leaving the water. Once the first few leave then the others should follow.
The surf at Karon on Sunday was brutal. How any rational human being could have even considered going in for a swim is incomprehensible to me.

There was a comment by 'Surfer' in an earlier thread saying that surfers should be allowed to stay in the water. That's their prerogative. A surfer has a buoyant surf board which you can rest on when tired. A casual swimmer does not. Get the swimmers out of the water.

The Phuket lifeguards are doing a great job, in the face of human stupidity !

Posted by Mr Man on November 12, 2010 06:43

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I think it is a bit harsh to call the swimmers stupid. As suggested in the report, the problem lies in the marketing. Phuket is promoted as a year-round beach holiday destination.

Naturally those who come here tempted by pictures of pristine beaches find it very hard to resist going for a swim on the beach right in front of their hotel.

After all, this is what they came here for and were told they could enjoy.

It is imperative that the potential dangers of Phuket beaches in the low season are relayed to prospective tourists BEFORE they decide to come here.

This is of course in stark contrast with business interests on Phuket, which is why this is a classic showdown between Money and the value of Human Life.

Nothing will stop some tourists entering the sea if that's what they've flown half across the world to do. They need to know this BEFORE they book their trip to Phuket.

Perhaps this issue might be worth including in national travel alerts.

Swimming in Phuket during the low season can be and often is life-threatening.

Posted by Chris on November 12, 2010 12:06


Tuesday January 22, 2019
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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