Speed Reads

safety first

Thailand considering restricting beach parties, having tourists wear wristbands

Following the murders of two British backpackers earlier this month, Thailand's tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said she would like to see tourists wear wristbands in order to help identify visitors who are lost or in trouble.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found dead Sept. 15 on a beach in Koh Tao, a southern island. Thailand's forensics department said that Witheridge died from severe head wounds, and Miller died from drowning and blows to the head. Police are not close to making any arrests, Reuters reports, and the public is frustrated. Tourism accounts for almost 10 percent of the country's GDP, and officials are worried that the unsolved murders and the fact that Thailand is still under martial law after a May 22 coup will keep people away.

For safety, Kobkarn has suggested that when tourists check into their hotels, they receive wristbands with information on where they are staying in case they get drunk or lost. That way, "they can be easily assisted," Kobkarn told Reuters. "The next step would be some sort of electronic tracking device but this has not yet been discussed in detail."

Other options, she said, include pairing tourists with a local resident at different attractions, and possibly even limiting the places where beach parties can be held. Kobkarn has received some pushback, she said, from hotels who are afraid tourists will not want to wear the wristbands.