PHUKET: New Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak pays his first visit to Phuket today, with an opportunity to size up first-hand the jewel of Thai tourism.
It's good that his flight to Phuket is coming so soon after his April 9 appointment - his predecessor showed little interest in Phuket visits.
What's extremely heartening is that Khun Somsak has already said that safety and security for visitors is his top priority.
The new minister, a former provincial governor, is to meet with Phuket's leaders then brief the local media later today.
We look forward to hearing first-hand what he has to say because Phuketwan shares the minister's priorities of safety and security.
We would go a little further and suggest that another essential is needed to achieve peace of mind among those coming to Phuket in future: transparency.
Important life and death issues cannot and should not be covered up.
When it comes to the safety and security of Phuket tourists, the areas where people run the greatest risks are where they spend much of their time: on the roads, and in the water.
Deaths on Phuket are reported in much the same way they are reported everywhere these days, as accurately as possible. Visitors die on Phuket for the same reasons they die at home.
However, the roads on and around Phuket are less safe than they should be. They could and should be made safer.
The beaches and the seas, too, are less safe than they should be. For a destination that promotes itself as a year-round beach holiday island, more attention should be paid to warning tourists about possible dangers.
This time last year, Phuketwan was able to provide monthly updates on the figures for the road toll and for drownings on Phuket.
But the release of statistics has now ceased - except for the New Year Seven Days of Danger periods. At the time that statistical updates ceased to be released, deaths on the roads and in the water were trending down.
Phuket appeared to be winning the battle to make the island safer for visitors. One year later, we can no longer be so sure.
However, tourists who do their research online are now unable to determine the levels of safety and security on Phuket's roads and at Phuket's beaches.
The figures have simply become unavailable.
We'd recommend to the new minister that there is one effective way to encourage intelligent tourists to believe that their safety and security is a top priority: with complete transparency.