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Violent crimes on Phuket are rare enough to rate a special mention

'Dangerous Thailand': Media Spreads the Myth

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
THE MYTH is being perpetuated today that ''British tourists are more likely to be killed in Thailand than any other destination.''

This lie forms part of the introduction to a report at the timesonline.co.uk, which gets the latest FCO British Behaviour Abroad Report horribly wrong.

The timesonline report, based on outdated information, has also been lifted in its entirety by thaivisa.com and sent out in an email news alert to members.

Thus lies about ''dangerous Thailand'' are being spread, far and wide. The truth is that Thailand is no more dangerous than most other destinations for British tourists, and others.

The wrong figures have been used in the original timesonline article, and the wrong conclusions have been reached.

Here's one prominent paragraph: ''Motorbike accidents are the main reason why 269 Britons died there last year, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)''

Actually, that's a figure from a previous year. In the year to April 1, 2009, a total of 288 Britons died in Thailand.

However, as the British Embassy in Bangkok or the Foreign Office could have told the reporter, most of those deaths were natural and had nothing to do with motorbikes.

The timesonline report simply ignores the 41,000 Britons who are residents in Thailand and who in the course of events die from natural causes, and the 810,000 visitors (not 860,000) some of whom just happen to die while on holiday.

When it comes to motorbikes, the Foreign Office stats record 198 Brits hospitalised in Thailand to April 1 . . . not the 324 quoted by the timesonline. That high figure was in a previous year, when motorcycles were clearly more of a problem.

As Andrew Biggs wrote in the Bangkok Post earlier this month: ''We get wild rumors on the internet dressed up in coats of serious journalism telling us how dangerous Thailand is for tourists.

''Somebody says hundreds of tourists were 'maimed or murdered' in Pattaya and suddenly it's all over the net.

''Who said it? Kevin the backpacker from Cardiff? Barry from the British Chamber of Commerce? Nui from B-NOW?

''It turns out last year five British tourists were murdered in Thailand out of a total of 12 foreigners.''

Earlier, another investigator found that the chances of a Brit being murdered are greater in Britain than they are in Thailand . . . especially if you happen to be close to a pub brawl or at a football match next to someone with a knife.

Phuketwan reporters make mistakes, too, from time to time. We are not perfect. No journalism can be. When we do make mistakes, we try to correct them.

In this instance, Thailand and tourists deserve a correction from those who started the myth, and those who spread it.

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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Thailand should seek official apologies for these bad reports. If the roles were reversed ...?

Posted by Graham on August 26, 2009 14:16

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And more innocent Thais were vomited on by more drunken English tourists than any other nationality

Posted by Anonymous on August 26, 2009 18:16

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IS this what you consider journalism? This biased " report" belongs under "Editorial," (very bad editorial.)

Editor: Hello Thai Wary. Thanks for your contribution. Can Thai Weary be far away?

Posted by Thai Wary on August 28, 2009 08:14

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Classic juxtaposition of news articles and viewer comments:
3 'I Was Drugged, Robbed,' says Phi Phi Visitor
4 'Dangerous Thailand': Media Spreads the Myth
5 Thai Wife 'Had Expat Murdered for US$1 Million'

Excellent!

Posted by Anonymous on September 1, 2009 21:20

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Thailand can be a dangerous country. With no police protection and a nationalistic population it's best to be on your guard. At least be aware of the dangers. To publish an article that tells tourists that Thailand is a safe and happy place with no danger smacks of extreme naivety. Perhaps in the future you should consult with Thai expats that have experienced life in Thailand for more than a few weeks.

Editor: Any country can be dangerous if you happen to be in the wrong place or in the wrong company. Only a tiny percentage of visitors to Thailand experience problems. There is no evidence to support your generalisations.

Posted by colin on September 2, 2009 22:47

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Actually, leaving the Brits aside for a second, Thailand would shoot off the murder scale if statistics were properly reported here.
A talk with Dr Pornthip might disabuse of about the comparative safety of Thailand.
As for the Brits an honest talk with an Embassy official would also probably show that a lot more happens to tourists than actually gets reported or goes on file.
I find it unlikely that the the FCO would invent or inflate figures. They are usually quite secretive about what happens to British nationals, and merely publish this annual report.
I look forward to the forthcoming documantary 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand' in which Phuket and Koh Samui play a big part.
No need to comment on British behaviour. Its all been said!

Editor: Fewer that 200 (recorded) hospitalisations among more than 800,000 Brits visiting and 41,000 living here makes Thailand appear extremely safe.

Posted by Andrew on September 2, 2009 23:21

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Either you are living on a cloud, or else you are clearly not in the same Thailand as everyone else. to say that it's safe is preposterous!

I live here, and every day I hear and read about the same stories, bag snatches from motorbikes, corruption and rip offs, murders, so called suicides (yeah right). Take a survey of as many of us living here as you like, and you will get the same responses.

Something needs to be done, and the Thais seriously need to do something to stem the tide, or else see dramatically less numbers of tourists coming.

Corruption in Thailand is number one.

Editor: Most Thais do not feel in danger or threatened in any way. For every expat who says how dangerous Thailand is, there are 100 who visit and who leave without the slightest hint of a problem. Generally, those who find it dangerous seem to be the ones who ride motorcycles without helmets and venture into obviously dangerous places. Yes, corruption is a huge problem.

Posted by matteous on September 14, 2009 11:39


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