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Safety is a Phuket swimming pool during the monsoon season

Summer on Phuket: Stop the Needless Drownings

Sunday, June 7, 2009
Phuketwan Opinion/Analysis

A SPATE of needless drownings and near-fatalities off Phuket's beaches raises again the issue of the safety of tourists and locals in the water.

It's a matter of life and death, not something that can be ignored.

The image of a young, pregnant British tourist flying home alone in mourning sends a message to people all over the world: go somewhere safe for your next holiday.

On Phuket, the message for local administrations is plain: do something. Today, not tomorrow. Get trained lifeguards in place, with proper equipment, now.

The message for resorts is that they must prioritise safety in the water, too. How many of them tell each guest in no uncertain terms that it's probably not wise to swim in the sea at this time of the year?

Not very many. The ''Summer in Phuket'' marketing campaign seems to be an exercise in self-delusion.

Clearing the beaches of debris sends the message to some that it really looks like Summer, and therefore, if it is really Summer, it must be safe to swim.

As for the rescue services in place now . . . well, the efforts made on Phuket are at best inadequate, at worst, pathetic.

A year-long row about funding means there is no effective commitment to safety in the water today, or for the future.

And remember, tourists don't vote. To some island politicians, spending money on a system to ensure the safety of tourists is not a very appealing proposition.

The Orborjor, which supported last year's first surf lifesaving carnival on Patong beach, has cried poor for the second carnival in July, leaving the local tessaban to help.

Deaths in the water reflect badly, too, on the resorts that have chosen not to pay their room taxes to the Orbortor.

Perhaps it's time they were named, and shamed.

High standards are set at a few beaches, standards that need to be adopted at all Phuket beaches, no matter what the cost.

Le Meridien Phuket, for example, provides trained lifeguards every day of the year, from 7am to 7pm, whether it's safe to swim, and even if the beach is closed.

Locals on many other beaches do their best, but with limited equipment and training. They need help.

As since-departed Governor Dr Preecha Ruangjan promised when he was in the chair, on a holiday island safety in the water must be a priority for everyone . . .

And that goes double for ''Summer.''

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Wednesday October 27, 2021
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