China complains over tourist safety
BANGKOK, 22 September 2011 – A boom in individual travellers from China has a downside according to the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China, which claims there has been an increase in accidents involving Chinese visitors.
The assessment was made at a recent meeting with Ministry of Tourism and Sports on how to build confidence in China and ensure Thailand remains a safe country to visit.
China’s tourism administration vice chairmen, Zhu Shanzhong, said that around 25% of all visitors from China are individual travellers who book and organise their own trips and they are more vulnerable to accidents.
He called on the Ministry of Tourism to rebuild confidence by improving safety measures in the country.
There are no official statistics on how many Chinese are injured or die during their visits to Thailand, but it is thought to have increased based on the Chinese government’s assessment.
Safety while travelling in Thailand is an issue for all nationalities and most of the deaths and injuries are linked to poor road safety.
Four recommendations were made by Chinese officials during the visit to the Ministry of Tourism. They were:
• Raise efficiency and scope of tourist insurance to ensure Chinese visitors can be confident that they are covered during their trips to Thailand;
• Establish a unit which can fast track assistance for tourists particularly in a crisis situation;
• Set a tourism fund to pay compensation for visitors injured, while on holiday and for the families that suffer the loss of a relative during a trip to Thailand in addition to the tour company insurance that has a ceiling of Bt500,000 for an injury and Bt1 million in the case of loss of life;
• Speed up promotions to encourage Thais to travel to China to balance inbound travel through a two-way tourism policy.
During January to August this year, Chinese tourists made 1,155,712 trips to Thailand up from 685,520 visits during the same period last year, while Thai visits to China reached 600,000 over the same period.
Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports permanent secretary, Sombat Kuruphan, said he would hold meetings with officials from Foreign Affairs, Transport, Public Health, Interior and the Tourist Police Division to discuss the Chinese recommendations.
“Basically, the ministry regulation requires registered tour operator to arrange insurance for tourists,” Mr Sombat said.
He added: “ Tourists who travel on their own arrangements should buy travel insurance in their home countries before leaving for Thailand. ”