PBTA boss, council members decry inaction on Pattaya marine-safety measures

Friday, 03 January 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 1 By  Warunya Thongrod

The head of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association continued his assault on city hall over marine safety, saying that despite all the talk that followed last year’s string of deadly accidents, the city still has done little to improve.

Speaking at the city council’s Dec. 24 Tourism and Culture Committee meeting, Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn said the city still “has unclear measures to promote tourists confidence” in Pattaya’s marine safety, particularly swimming on the beach.

PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn lets the Tourism and Culture Committee know he still believes there is a lot of work left to ensure public safety in Pattaya Bay.PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn lets the Tourism and Culture Committee know he still believes there is a lot of work left to ensure public safety in Pattaya Bay.

The initiative to hire lifeguards to work in Pattaya and Koh Larn “has not been successful, even though, we have lifeguard stations,” he said. “We also have been a favorite on the news in relation to tourist deaths. We have to push to bring back the confidence tourists had in us.”

Sinchai’s comments came six weeks after he presented Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh with a list of seven reforms he believes need to be made to prevent future accidents. So far, no progress has been made on any of them.

The PBTA president has been the most outspoken critic of city and marine-safety officials, publicly rebuking Pattaya’s politicians and top regulators to their faces at a Nov. 4 hearing called after seven tourists were killed in the latest in a string of marine accidents. In 2013 alone, 11 tourists were killed and dozens injured in more than a half-dozen boat-related mishaps.

This time, however, Sinchai found support among city council members and others at the December meeting.

“Currently, there are not enough life vests for tourists and buoys for demarking swimming areas at Tawaen Beach,” pointed out Councilman Banjong Banthoonprayuk. “This must be solved immediately as the number of tourists is at an all-time high. I fear that tourists may injured by jet-skis around that area.”

“Since Pattaya has recently been the talk of the news on water accidents, particularly with Chinese tourists as victims, the Chinese ambassador has inquired as to the safety measures,” said Councilwoman Yuwida Jidapa. “It is quite worrisome, as this affects the confidence and trust for tours to come to Pattaya. We have to create an understanding with the Chinese  ambassador as soon as possible.”

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