Boat safety in spotlight amid weather warning and holidays


PHUKET: Security has been ramped up at major piers and marinas in Phuket amid expectations of increased tourist arrivals on the island during the long holidays from July 28 through August 2, the Phuket office of the Department of Public Relations of Thailand (PR Phuket) has announced.

“As the long holidays continue, Phuket tourism is bustling, especially in the areas of Phuket Old Town, Patong Beach, Kata Beach, Karon Beach, and the small islands off Phuket. There are a lot of tourists, including both Thai nationals and foreign visitors from Russia, India, China, Kazakhstan, as well as neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and others,” PR Phuket said in a report issued yesterday (July 29).

Adding to the urgency for enhanced marine safety, the Southwestern Meteorological Center (Phuket Met) on the same day (July 29) confirmed its weather warning for the remaining holidays from July 30 through August 2.

The Phuket Met expects waves in the Andaman Sea to reach 3 meters and more than 3 meters in the thunderstorm areas. Small boat should stay ashore in such meteorological condition.

As part of the measure to heighten the safety on vessels used for marine transportation and island tours, Head of the Phuket Marine Office Natchaphong Pranit conducted personal inspections at popular piers.

Mr Natchaphong reiterated key demands for boat operators, such as checking their vessels before trips, ensuring the functionality of radios and readiness of safety equipment on board, exercising caution during navigation, and using AIS tracking all the time while at sea.

Nothing has been said about the requirement to skippers to stay sober while navigating vessels, though illicit drug use was officially confirmed in Phuket’s most recent marine accident which left over 30 people injured in May.

The PR Phuket report repeated the Phuket Met weather warning, stressing that small boats measuring less than 10 meters in length should remain at bay during rough weather until August 2.

“In case of a marine accident, the situation can be reported to the 24-hour Marine Office Hotline 1199,” PR Phuket reminded.

This hotline can be used by ordinary people as well in cases such as a family suspecting something could have gone wrong with a member who went out to sea for fishing or any other activity and failed to return on time.

No incidents on marine transport have been reported during the first two days of the extended holidays (July 28-29). Other marine incidents included the suspected drowning of a 22-year-old man from Senegal who went swimming at Freedom Beach despite red flags and was dragged into the sea. As of yesterday night (July 29), the man had not been found and was feared dead.

According to Lertchai Wangtrauldee, Director of the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT Phuket), over 234,000 people can visit the island of Phuket during the extended holiday, bringing B2.2 billion in tourism revenue.

Ready to welcome holidaymakers, Phuket currently has 1,890 hotels with 101,556 rooms available. Hotel occupancy is forecast at 65.87% with an average stay of 1.7 days per visitor, Mr Lertchai said.

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