Thailand: Deadly Destination, by veteran journalist John Stapleton, exposes one of the worst scandals in the annals of modern tourism, the high number of deaths, assaults and mishaps befalling tourists in the so-called Land of Smiles.
The daily robbing, bashing, drugging, extortion and murder of foreign tourists on Thai soil, along with numerous scandals involving unsafe facilities and well established scams, has led to frequent predictions that Thailand’s multibillion-dollar tourist industry will self-destruct. Instead tourist numbers more than doubled in the decade to 2014. The world might not have come to the hometowns of the many visitors fascinated by Thailand, but it certainly came to the Land of Smiles.
Thailand is the single most dangerous destination on Earth for Australians, while more British tourists die in Thailand than any other country bar Spain, which has more than a dozen times the level of visitation. Scandalously, the US State Department has refused to release statistics on the number of American citizens dying in Thailand each year.
While the Thai media is heavily censored, and bad news stories about tourists suppressed, veteran journalist John Stapleton’s book Thailand: Deadly Destination amply demonstrates that something has gone seriously awry with the nation’s tourist industry.
In 2014, just as in the years preceding it, there were train, bus, ferry, speedboat, motorbike and car accidents, murders, knifings, unexplained deaths, numerous suicides, diving accidents, robberies gone wrong, anonymous bodies washing up on the shores and a string of alcohol and drug related incidents.
Thailand has a dying king and serious succession problems, weak democratic institutions, an economy slipping into recession, faces issues of corruption across many of its key services and is host to international crime syndicates, awash with despised foreigners and drifting perilously towards civil war.
Tourists choose one destination over another for a number of reasons, most of which Thailand scores highly on. But on the core issue of tourist safety, Thailand scores very badly indeed.
The book, widely praised, has been described it as a “riveting eye-opener”.
“The international coverage of the recent brutal killing of two British backpackers on the island of Koh Tao in southern Thailand has highlighted what many long-time observers of Thailand already knew, that its tourist industry is poorly managed and the Land of Smiles has come to justifiably be regarded as one of the most dangerous tourist destinations on Earth,” John Stapleton says. “Along with international experts
on tourism in general and Thailand in particular, Deadly Destination references both Thailand’s major English language dailies and its numerous regional news outlets. Tourist safety in Thailand is a very live issue, and fresh stories of tourist mayhem emerge every day.
”My aim was to make this the best collection of material on the chaos in the Thai tourist industry yet compiled. I hope it will form the basis for other investigators to take the issue further. For the sake of the nation’s reputation, the all too many lives that have been cut short and the grieving families left behind, I hope the Thai authorities address the many problems impacting on tourists. They also need to address the terrible environmental and social damage inflicted on their beautiful country by the decades long mismanagement of their tourist industry.”
Websites reporting news of the book’s publication have been blocked by the Thai police and Thailand: Deadly Destination has been banned in Thailand.