Aftonbladet, once a well-regarded source, now has a growing reputation among well-informed Swedes for distortions and outright lies about Phuket.
The latest ridiculous asertions come under the front-page headline: ''DANGEROUS THAILAND Paradise Island a death trap for Swedes.''
The article stitches together a series of events in which the only real connection is coincidence.
Highlighting the murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith on Phuket earlier this year, Aftonbladet says she was ''stabbed to death by two men on a motorcycle who stole her purse.''
In fact, Michelle Smith refused to let go of her handbag. That's the reason why she was knifed.
The article also says ''there has been a boycott'' by Australian visitors since the murder.
That's far from the truth. Australians continue to come in great numbers, and Mrs Smith's husband is among those who acknowledge that Phuket shouldn't be blamed for his wife's murder.
The two men were quickly arrested and sentenced to long jail terms. In fact, Mrs Smith's death led to a campaign to make Phuket safer for tourists.
A network of security cameras and volunteer neighborhood groups have, according to police, led to a reduction of 30 percent in crime in and around Patong, the holiday destination on Phuket's west coast.
But that's good news. Aftonbladet does not report good news about Phuket.
The article goes on to say that ''deadly jellyfish are found in the waters around Phuket, usually at high tide and [after] rain.''
Untrue. There has never been a recorded encounter with the deadly box jellyfish, which appears to be what the paragraph is about, on Phuket's popular west coast beaches.
A report in Britain's 'Daily Mail' recently mentioned Phuket in connection with treatment of a tourist's nasty jellyfish wound. But the sting turned out to have been inflicted 600 kilometres away from Phuket.
There's no denying that four people were killed in a discotheque fire in Patong, that too many tourists drown on Phuket's beaches between mid-May and mid-July, and that jet-ski scams, water pollution, garbage disposal and excessively high taxi fares remain problems for Phuket.
To lump these issues in with a series of other deaths among Swedes from falls, drug overdoses and road crashes on and around Phuket is, as most thoughtful Aftonbladet readers will agree, ridiculous.
Envoys at the Swedish embassy acknowledge that, as with French visitors lately, the number of Swedes who have died on Phuket this year is far from sinister, just a rather sad statistical abberration.
There may be some damage to Phuket's reputation from the Aftonbladet article among Swedes who are unable to think for themselves. But on reflection, that may not be such a bad thing.
Here is the (admittedly rough) Google translation of the original Aftonbladet article:
The Dangerous Thailand
Michelle Smith was attacked when she was returning to the Swedish hotel Katathani Beach Resort right on the beach and the azure sea on Phuket. She did not have a chance. She bled to death on the street while the robbers disappeared with her purse on the motorcycle. The murder of Michelle Smith is a crude example of how the Swedish tourist paradise in a few years changed. Today is greed, corruption and violence that controls on the popular holiday island.
They murdered MICHELLE, 60
When the two men who later were convicted of knife murder of travel agent Michelle Smith (in handcuffs on Vespa) ley was at the crime scene was the closest lynch atmosphere. The murder, and other crimes on the island, has enabled Australia on several occasions has issued travel warnings for Phuket. "The island is dying strypdoden" said a hotelier.
PHUKET. Raw Murder, drownings and mysterious deaths.
Serious traffic accidents and fires.
It has been a black year in the Swedish tourist paradise.
And now approaching the high season - which may be one of the last of Phuket as a popular holiday island.
At the long beach in Patong waves roll in, few cruise ships appear on the horizon and the tourists half asleep in their colorful deckchairs. Some bathe. Those who rent jet skis, various vendors and masseurs screaming at each other in the mouth.
Phuket is subjected to a crude exploitation in the last ten years. Now reality has caught up with those responsible. Politicians, investors, novelty vendors and taxi drivers all face a very bleak future - unless the authorities take vigorous action.
- Greed and corruption have driven Phuket at the bottom. The island is dying strypdoden says a hotel owner who wishes to remain anonymous told Aftonbladet.
The problems in Phuket can be divided into three major groups:
.. Crime and fiddles affecting tourists and gives bad reputation.
.. Roads, sewage, waste and water that is not enough to handle millions of holidaymakers.
.. Environmental degradation littering, broken coral and black built hotel in the nature reserves.
The explanation for the problems stated, however, remain the same: the possibility of quick money, one through corrupt society where everything and everyone can be bought, and no one thinks long term.
At least 2.3 million tourists
This year, 2.3 million tourists visit Phuket only by air. Once the airport expansion is complete in 2015, the number doubled.
Equation does not add up.
Statistics also show that the number of tourists from previously strong visit countries decreases, for example, from Australia and some European countries. They are replaced by new, wealthy people from other countries. So far this year tops China visit the league, followed by Malaysia, Russia, Japan, South Korea and India.
The figures also show that a total of 373,856 Swedes traveled to Thailand in 2011, many of them went on to Phuket. The first half of this year was 261,888 Swedes. There are various information on booking situation for the season among Swedish tour operators. But a strong Swedish krona makes other attractive destinations such as the Caribbean.
Australians cruelly robbed and killed
Australia has repeatedly issued travel warnings for Phuket. But now there is almost a boycott. The reason is the cruel murder of raw travel agent Michelle Smith, 60, last summer. She was stabbed to death by two men on a motorcycle who stole her purse. Michelle Smith was part of a group from different travel agencies in Australia Perth who was in Phuket to discover news of the resort. Two men have been convicted of murder. When the grass was at the murder scene was lynch atmosphere.
But it is not only to deter crime.
During April and May, when the southwest monsoon create dangerous waves, drowned several people on the beaches of Kata and Karon. During the period lifeguards strike for higher wages.
Disco Fire after short circuit
And on the morning of 17 August this year burned disco Tiger at Midway Bangla Road in Patong Beach. Four people died in the flames, eleven were injured. Just a pure wonder that not more fatalities. At least 200 people were on the premises when the fire broke out. There they had taken shelter against a heavy rain. But the water caused a short circuit - soon the building was in flames.
- The place has been notorious for years. The owners have only been looking to make money and had a rough style, among other things, against the authorities. I have been beaten by guards once inside, says the Swede Lars.
Phuket is already a nightmare charter and its tarnished reputation worldwide hit all the Thai tourism.
Now the island has a new police chief, Chote Chawanwiwat, who comes from a military chief minister of the war going on in southern Thailand. He says:
- I will have zero tolerance for drug dealers and crooks. If their business continues to be treated in the same way as the terrorists in the South.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is also very concerned and has allocated the equivalent of 500 million to a project to implement quality improvements in 29 destinations, among them Phi Phi Island, Patong and Phuket City's older areas.
To see a more luxurious Phuket
- I want to see a green Phuket and a focus on eco-tourism to attract quality tourists back. This region must also work together to create sustainable development, she said recently at a conference in Krabi.
Several wealthy Thais and foreign investors would, however, see a very different future for Phuket: more luxury properties such as hotels, villas, spas and schools.
They want more exclusivity. A kind of Monaco in the tropics.
Here are seven dangers that threaten tourists
1 Rent water scooter, they are fun to drive, but the problems start when you come back. The aggressive renters can damage and want to be paid directly for repairs. The complicated insurance policies offered on the beach, of course not.
2 Hire motorbike Same design as water scooters. Can cost 30,000 to 40,000 baht, nearly 9000 billion, to repair.
3 Taxi The taxi mafia-like cartels on the island have set their own rates. Of course, the prices compared to the normal rate. For example, the cost distance from Patong to the airport 800 baht, about 170 million. And there is no public transport. Sharing minibus costs 150 baht, about 30 bucks for the same distance.
4 Traffic Is dangerous with its narrow roads, dense traffic, high speeds, traffic systems and inexperienced tourists without a helmet on a motorcycle.
5 robberies and pickpockets Appears everywhere else. Common security measures - such as having value - things left on site, keeping track of purse and wallet and watch out in the crowd - usually good enough.
6 bath water quality is changing, sometimes very low. Particularly after rain, mainly at Patong and Karon. They usually sewage overflow and leak into the sea. It is difficult to get accurate measurements. Avoid swimming with open wounds.
7 Deadly Jellyfish Different species of the highly dangerous kubmaneten found in the waters around Phuket, usually occurs at high tide and rain.
Drugs, accidents and murders have taken 20 Swedes' lives
.. Traffic accident, 23/1 A 32-year-old Swedish on motorcycle collides with a power pole outside Duangjitt Resort in Patong and ports for a sexhjulig truck. Man dies immediately.
.. Traffic accident, 22/7 A 54-year-old Swedish hoteliers in Phuket killed after he drove off the road with his motorcycle. He was found badly injured by some passers but dies later.
.. Murder, 1/8 A Swedish man in 25-year-old from Gothenburg knife murdered outside his home by two peers Swedes. The reason can be found in a scam company with telecommunications services as the three ran together in Pattaya. The trial is ongoing.
.. Mysterious death, 20/12 A 21-year-old woman from Skane found dead aboard a private yacht at Patong Beach. She worked on board the 90-meter yacht. The cause of death is unknown but police do not think the offense is behind.
Motorcycle Accident, 5/1 A 48-year-old Swedish military lost control of his motorcycle on a curve and went straight into a house. He was dead when police arrived at the scene. The man had served in the NATO force in Afghanistan but was on vacation when the accident occurred.
.. Traffic accident, 2/2 Four young people in their 20s from Varberg collides with a refrigerator that have come into the wrong file in Phang Nga, north of Phuket. Adolescents Toyota was completely destroyed in the crash. The Swedes and their driver died instantly. Truck driver slipped from the scene but was arrested later. He has not yet received its judgment. The Swedes were to Koh Tao on the East Coast to dive when the accident occurred.
.. Fall Accident, 25/2 A man in his 30s fell three stories from a hotel balcony in Karon Beach, on Phuket. He fell through a metal roof before he landed on the ground. The man later died of his serious head injuries.
.. Motorcycle Accident, 26/2 A man in a 45-year-old was killed when he was meeting at a sharp curve on Karon Beach and collided head violently with a passenger car.
.. Overdose, 14/3 35-year-old man found dead in his hotel room. The autopsy shows a drug overdose.
When all truths be told, Phuket and its problems are really no different than any other highly visible, well traveled tourist destination. I am upset to hear that the Swedes think they have an edge on unfortunate situations. Bad things can happen anywhere, any time and to anyone. Time to stop whining...it only adds to the problem...Start becoming part of the solution by being a bit more responsible for your own actions and choices.
Posted by Ted Davis on October 21, 2012 13:09