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Swiss Woman’s Murder Shakes Foreign Tourist Confidence in Phuket



Foreign Tourist Confidence Shaken in Phuket by Murder of Swiss Woman

The rape and murder of a 57 year-old Swiss woman in Phuket has shaken tourist confidence and seriously affected the Phuket sandbox scheme, says Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry.

“Every authority involved with the Phuket sandbox including Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry has to share the responsibility,” said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister.

On Thursday, the body of a 57-year-old Swiss National Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf the deputy protocol chief of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland who was visiting Thailand as part of the Phuket sandbox was dead near Tone Ao Yon waterfall in Phuket.

“This incident should not have happened. The sandbox scheme was starting to gather pace and many countries are keeping an eye on us,” Mr Phiphat said.

Mr Phiphat said now greater cooperation between security agencies, the Tourist Police Bureau and Phuket governors will be required in order to improve confidence in tourism.

In addition to a security upgrade in Phuket, he said all sandbox destinations must tighten security measures in order to convince foreign tourists they will be safe while travelling in Thailand.

Woman’s murder in Phuket goes viral

Mr Phiphat admitted the tourist police does not have sufficient staff to cover all tourism areas, as the agency has only 2,000 tourist police nationwide. The tourist police will have to train another 3,000 volunteers to help strengthen local surveillance and adopt technologies to enhance security systems and avoid past mistakes, he said.

The most important issue is to track down her murderer to allow the truth to come out, said Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

The key components for reopening each tourist area are the development of herd immunity, marketing plans and supply-side development, which includes tourist safety, said Mr Yuthasak.

He said it might be too early to label this incident a failure of the Phuket sandbox because the authorities already extended high-level surveillance to many places. The crime scene is a location that is off the beaten track, said Mr Yuthasak.

“The incident has inevitably affected the sandbox’s image, but it is too soon to predict booking trends as tourists normally take a two-week lead time before taking trips,” he said.

The rape, murder in Phuket has been reported via news agencies in Switzerland, Japan and various other countries as well as going viral on social media.

Time line of Swiss woman

The Bangkok Post revealed the timeline of the Swiss woman who loved Thailand but was found murdered at a waterfall in Phuket on Thursday afternoon, and the information included details of her last 1.4-kilometre lone, uphill walk.

Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, 57,  deputy head of protocol of the Swiss Federal Assembly, arrived at Phuket airport on Singapore Airlines flight SQ726 at 10.34am on July 13, travelling on a Swiss passport. She had a tourist visa set to expire on Aug 26.

She stayed at Dusit Laguna Hotel in tambon Choeng Talay of Thalang district from July 13 to 27. She had reserved her room there via the Phuket Sandbox reopening project.

At the hotel she practised yoga every morning with hotel staff and slept at the hotel every night.

On July 25 she went to Bangkok Hospital Phuket in a limousine of AIG Co, which provided the service at the hotel.

On July 27 she checked out from the hotel and left in a Phuket-registered taxi called via the 12GO website, heading for tambon Ao Nang of Muang district in Krabi. She was alone. The chauffeur was idenfied as Hathairat Promchan.

She passed Phuket’s Chatchai checkpoint in Thalang district at 11.05am on July 27.

At 1.36pm she checked in at Vacation Village Phra Nang Inn in tambon Ao Nang of Krabi’s Muang district. She stayed there until July 31. On July 30 she chartered a van arranged by the hotel to visit downtown Krabi that afternoon. The van driver was identified only as Bang Bao.

On July 31 the woman checked out of the hotel and travelled by the same taxi she had used in Phuket on July 27. The driver this time was Prasat Promkamnerd and he brought her back to Phuket.

She checked in at The Mooring Resort Hotel in tambon Vichit of Muang district. From July 31 to Aug 3, she stayed at the hotel and relaxed on its beach.

According to security camera footage, on Tuesday (Aug 3) she walked out of the hotel about 11.25am to Ao Yon beach. At 11.48am she walked alone on Ao Yon-Khao Khat Road towards Ao Yon waterfall. She wore shorts, a white shirt and dark shoes, tied a long-sleeved shirt around her waist and carried a dark rucksack.

She walked 18 minutes, covering 1.4 kilometres from The Mooring Resort to Ao Yon waterfall. She was later found dead in the stream at the waterfall, in tambon Vichit of Muang district, about 1.30pm on Thursday (Aug 5).



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