BANGKOK, 5 July 2017: Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports is offering strong assurances that it will rebuild tourist confidence in “Koh Tao” island claiming it is still a paradise for tourists despite some media labeling it a “death island”.
According to the ministry’ statement, released late last week, it is reassuring visitors following a string of negative online media reports that speculated on the cause of death of a Belgian tourist, Elise Dallemange.
She died last April with police reporting it was probably a suicide. Foreign media dubbed Koh Tao “Death Island,” which in turn prompted the response from the ministry and some scathing verbal attacks by Tao Island residents on the local media based on nearby Samui Island that broke the story.
“We have called on the Tourist Police Division, Pol Maj Gen Prasert Ngenyuang to work with national police to accelerate investigations concerning the latest death.”
The tourism ministry’s Surat Thani office and Bureau of Tourism Safety Standard has also been told to monitor the situation closely.
On 29 June, Department of Tourism deputy general director, Santi Pawai, visited the island and talked with officials to build confidence and ensure safety was a priority.
The permanent secretary added that according to the tourism department’s data number of tourists visiting Surat Thani province averages around 80,000 visits per month of which 30,000 tourists visit Tao Island.
“Surat Thani is one of the provinces with the highest number of tourists…this month we will visit the province and improve public relations and ensure tourism safety measures are up to scratch to build tourist confidence.”
On 27 April, Elise Dallemange, 30, from Belgium was found dead on Tao island in the jungle above Tanote bay. She arrived at the island 19 April and checked in at a bungalow at Mae Haad. She was the seventh tourist to die in mysterious circumstances over the last three years.
A missing of Russian tourist, Valentina Novozhyonova, vanished from her hostel on Koh Tao in mid-February this year.
Luke Miller, a British national, who was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool at a resort on the island, 8 January 2016.
UK citizen Christina Annesley’s body was discovered inside a bungalow room at a resort on the eastern side of the island 21 January 2015.
The body of Swiss tourist, Hanspeter Suter, who went missing 8 November 2014 from Koh Tao and believed drowned was later found on shore in Lang Suan district, in mainland Chumphon province.
British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were murdered on the island in September 2014. Two Burmese workers were charged and convicted of their murder.