Top Pattaya-area officials welcomed China’s ambassador on his first trip to the city, reassuring him on efforts to improve marine safety.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, Permanent Secretary Pakorn Sukhonthachat, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, Tourist Police chief Lt. Col. Arun Promphan and Bandit Siritanyong of the Thai-Chinese Cultural and Economic Association greeted Ning Fukui Feb. 21, briefing him on security and tourism issues.
Ning stressed that ties between Pattaya and China are strong, in part to a sister-city relationship with the Chinese city of Qingdao and investments made by the Chinese in over 140 companies in the eastern region.
H.E. Ning Fukui (center, left), Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Thailand, presents a souvenir to Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh during his official visit.
However, he warned, problems related to the safety of tourism threaten to weaken bonds between the two. A Hong Kong woman was one of seven tourists who were killed in November’s capsizing of a Koh Larn ferry and, in August, two Chinese tourists were killed and eight injured when their speedboat crashed into an anchored longtail boat off Bali Hai Pier. Another Chinese tourist drowned off Koh Larn in October and 12 more were hurt in a minibus accident in September. Nearly every month last year featured at least one Chinese tourist being robbed, injured or killed in the Pattaya area.
Sakchai stressed that local officials had set up committees to “fully supervise security, integrating public agencies, police, pier officers, tourist police and city hall.” He said swimming zones have been designated and a 24-hour safety center opened. The Pattaya Courthouse opened a tourist-specific court to assist short-time visitors.
“We have given special importance to water safety,” chimed in Arun. “Earlier, we were quite lenient since we let tourists make the decisions but upon accidents, tourists suffer large amount of damage.”
The ambassador praised the safety efforts, particularly rules requiring life vest use. However, he said, the city needs to do more to educate Chinese visitors on Thai laws and introduce Chinese language to signs in tourist area.