Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has given backing for the two men charged with the murder of two British tourists to have their DNA tested further. The two Burmese men had both admitted to the murders of tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge however the confessions have since been withdrawn.
This is the latest in a spate of murders in the Thai area and has lead to questions regarding the safety of the country, popular with British backpackers. David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were both found dead on a beach on the island of Koh Tao in September. A number of British tourists, mainly backpacking youths, have been found dead in suspicious circumstances in recent years. Jayne Nixon, aged 26 was found dead in a hotel room, Kirsty Jones, 23, was also murdered in her hotel room and Nick Pearson, 25 was found dead on the same beach as Miller and Witheridge.
A report released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has reported the deaths of 362 Britons across Thailand in the year 2013-14. These statistics do include those who died of natural causes however the incredibly high number is surely cause for concern? The question being raised by the families of those affected is what are Thai tourism and government doing about it?
One of the issues surrounding negative publicity for Thailand is that around 10% of their economy is directly funded by tourism and this is something that they would obviously like to protect. This vested interest in self-preservation is something that the families of victims have objected to, implying that government ‘cover-ups’ are likely and Thailand is acting untruthfully. Of course, these are just allegations at this stage and there has been no confirmed corruption within the Thai government.
With the UK foreign office offering stark warnings against the potential dangers of travel to Thailand, including particular warnings against crossing the borders in neighbouring Laos, Burma and Cambodia, it is clear that the Asian paradise is dangerous and beautiful in equal measure. Road deaths are remarkably high, with an average of 12,000 deaths a year –compared to the average of 3,000 a year in the UK. Licensing and insurance of high-adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping, diving and quad bikes can be well below those found in the UK and care should be taken accordingly.
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