Phuket urged to set up information centre on natural disasters

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PHUKET, April 12 – An information centre should be set up to keep the public informed at times of natural disasters, the Phuket Tourist Association president suggested after yesterday’s earthquake off Sumatra and as a result the tsunami warning prompted an evacuation.

He said the centre is to prevent public panic, particularly when mobile phone services and internet access became unreliable.

However, he said the government’s overall management of the earthquakes’ effect on Thailand was well done, but the system warning of natural disasters should be more widespread, for it only covers in limited areas.

Local tourism during the Songkran Festival should not be impacted by the earthquake, Mr Somboon said, as current room bookings stand at 80 per cent, a satisfactory level.

The ‘Songkran on the Beach’ activity is being held at Patong Beach through Friday. Tourists are expected to come out and join in the water fight in numbers as large as in previous years, the president commented.

Meanwhile, Phuket Marine Office director Wichai Kamkong, in charge of Thailand’s six Andaman coastal provinces of Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Satun, led his team and related workers on Thursday to inspect the Rassada Pier and tourist boats in Phuket’s provincial seat to create confidence for the public during the festive holiday.

He said fewer tourists were seen using boats compared to the same time last year.

Several Andaman coastal provinces felt the impact of Sumatra Island’s earthquake on Wednesday, Mr Wichai said.

He said he had ordered tourist boat entrepreneurs to strictly follow the law regarding boat drivers’ licenses, staff on board and lifesaving equipment.

Mr Wichai said at least 50 per cent of travellers cancelled their trips to the area although the tsunami alert was lifted. However, officers are to monitor the situation for several more days, he added.