Koh Tao struggles with battered image

String of tourist fatalities has damaged island’s image
In Thailand, Koh Tao is struggling to recover its once rosy destination image, which has taken a beating after a string of foreign tourist fatalities raised concerns about safety and security on an island popular for diving and snorkelling.
The island fell under the international spotlight in 2014 when two British backpackers were found brutally murdered on one of its beaches. Most recently, the mysterious death of a Belgian woman in April, which was ruled a suicide, further fuelled press coverage about the island’s ‘dark side’.
“[The media] reported some fake news and exaggerated information, resulting in a dramatic decrease in the number of tourists,” said Saijai Intarak, owner of Turtle Welcome Tours. “Some tourists who already booked a tour with us cancelled immediately after receiving the negative news.”
To woo tourists back, the operator has cooperated with local authorities to rebuild the destination’s image, reduced tour prices and worked with a partner hotel to attract tourists. Another operator, Siamcatamaran Tours, has tried to cushion the negative impact by selling tours in nearby Chumphon province instead. But NS Travel and Tours said sales performance for its Koh Tao tour was unaffected, as it assesses the safety of destinations it promotes.
TTG Asia


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