Thailand to give tourists `safety` wristbands

 Thailand on Tuesday announced plans to give tourists wristbands carrying their personal details, as the kingdom falls under intense scrutiny over visitor safety following the murder of two British holidaymakers. 

AFP| Updated: Sep 30, 2014, 16:46 PM IST

Bangkok: Thailand on Tuesday announced plans to give tourists wristbands carrying their personal details, as the kingdom falls under intense scrutiny over visitor safety following the murder of two British holidaymakers. 

Under the scheme hotels will distribute the wristbands to new arrivals. 

"If anything happens to them we will then know their names, nationality and hotel," said Arnuparp Gaesornsuwan, director general of the Department of Tourism told AFP.

"We have discussed it with hotel operators and they are willing to do it," he said.

"We are not going into their personal information -- it`s just the details they have to fill out on the immigration form already," he said.

Tourist police said the safety measure would be voluntary.

"In case they (tourists) get drunk and fall asleep on the beach we can bring them back to their hotels," Apichai Ti-armataya, commander of the Tourist Police told AFP.

He said the plan would be rolled out "soon" on popular resort islands such as Koh Tao and Koh Phangan and also the tourist beach area of Pattaya.

In addition to tagging tourists the Department of Tourism is keen to curb partying hours in visitor hotspots.

"Most of tourists are coming here for diving or to admire our nature -- not to party," Arnuparp said, adding new "zoning" curbs would likely control all-night bars and clubs.

Thailand`s image as a tourist paradise has been badly damaged by the brutal murders of British holidaymakers David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23 earlier this month.

Their battered bodies were found on a beach on southern Koh Tao island more than two weeks ago, sparkling a manhunt that has appeared increasingly desperate with police so far failing to make an arrest.

That seemingly sluggish response was compounded by insensitive comments made by the coup-leading prime minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who was forced into a rare public apology after suggesting women wearing bikinis could be more vulnerable to attack.

Thailand`s once-booming tourism industry is also scrambling to rebound from a slump in foreign visitor numbers after May`s military coup and a night-time curfew tarnished its reputation as the "Land of Smiles".

The government has lowered its forecast for tourist arrivals this year to 25.9 million, down from an initial target of 28 million.