In a move which aims to quell perceptions of Thailand as a dangerous tourist destination, the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) is teaming up with state agencies such as the Department of Land Transport, Marine Department and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to improve tourist safety standards across the country.
The partnership will improve land and marine transportation standards, as well as other aspects of tourism safety such as food, accommodation, tour guides and cybersecurity.
Safety standards for tour buses will be the first to launch this April, and according to TCT Vice-President Wasuchet Sophonsathien, at least 1,000 tour buses out of 15,000 buses nationwide should meet the standards within the year: aside from vehicle checks, bus drivers must be trained regarding tour services, have limited driving hours and drive responsibly.
Wasuchet, who is also President of the Thai Transportation Operators Association, added that certified tour buses would also receive a safety standard logo. Government bodies like the TAT, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau will promote the logo and set an example by using these certified buses, and the logo will also be publicised through Chinese government websites.
Furthermore, since the Phuket boat tragedy in 2018 – when a boat carrying 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew and tour guides capsized in rough waters off Koh Hei, south of Phuket, resulting in a large number of fatalities – TCT members in beach destinations including Pattaya, Phuket and Krabi have been working closely with the Thai Marine Department and local tour operators to look for illegal tour boats and unlicensed captains. Hundreds of arrests have been made and Wasuchet has revealed that the TCT will also be launching tour boat standards by the end of this year, which include getting tour boat operators to install GPS devices and provide GPS tracking wristbands for their passengers.
TCT President Chairat Triratanajarasporn added: “This will help to upgrade Thai tourism standards concretely and is the most important project of the council this year.” He also added that there are plans to establish a technology subcommittee, which will help tourism operators stay up-to-date with the latest technology.