Originally published at AsianCorrespondent.com on 13th October 2014
Following the brutal murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Koh Tao last month, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice to include a warning about the dangers of travelling to Thailand’s island destinations.
The update advisory said: “Western tourists including British nationals have been victims of vicious, unprovoked attacks by individuals and gangs in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
“Violent sexual assaults and robberies against both men and women are reported regularly in the Koh Samui archipelago and Krabi province.”
This is just the latest repercussion from the Koh Tao murders to tarnish Thailand’s tourist-friendly image.
In another embarrassing incident last week, the Thai media reported that the British Ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent had praised the Royal Thai Police on their handling of the murder investigation: “The British Ambassador to Thailand) expressed his satisfaction on how the case was being handled and his government would not interfere in any way with the investigation. Mr. Kent went on to praise the Royal Thai Police in solving the case and have shown exemplary professionalism as a crime fighting unit.”
Mark Kent later denied ever making such a statement and the comments have since been removed from the Thai PBS News website.
Meanwhile, back in the UK another suspicious death on Koh Tao has come to light. The parents of Nick Pearson, whose body was in the sea on New Year’s Day, believe his murder was covered up to protect Thailand’s lucrative tourist industry.
All this comes amongst growing pressure from human rights organisations and the media in the UK to ensure a fair and transparent trial in this high profile murder case.
It will be interesting to see what effect all this negative press has on tourism over the coming months.