World Economic Forum report on safety rejected by low scoring Thailand

Published:  12 Jun at 6 PM
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Thailand’s reputation amongst expats and tourists is likely to take a knock following the World Economic Forum’s placing of the country in the top 20 for its high rates of violence, crime and low rates of police service.

The WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, released earlier, comes on the heel of a further report placing the popular expat destination at the top of a list naming and shaming countries with the highest number of road accidents. The report covers 136 world countries and uses statistics compiled from reports of violence and terrorism, with Thailand featuring in the 20 most dangerous countries. In comparison with other Southeast Asian states including Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Laos, Thailand's rating was disappointing.

Featuring strongly in the reasons for the rating were Thailand’s southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, mostly Muslim by religion and home to regular if comparatively minor terrorist attacks as well as violence between police, army and locals. The majority of the bloody unrest in the South is based on historical as well as religious grievances, but the occasional terrorist attacks in Bangkok aren’t thought to be connected.

The latest attack in the capital took place on 20 May and involved a military-run hospital but, as with previous attacks, little progress has been made in the investigations. Other indicators in the WEF’s Thailand report included tourism, up one point from last year at 34th, health and hygiene, communication and information technology, openness, price, competitiveness and environment sustainability. Sadly, for a country with a fascinating history and culture, Thailand’s lowest score in the listings was for cultural resources.

Unsurprisingly, the country’s foreign minister denounced the report, saying it was biased and based on out-of-date statistics as well as inferring the WEF had admitted its mistakes. Overall, the Philippines was considered the most dangerous Southeast Asian country for tourists as well as for expats running businesses, with the majority of others in the ‘20’ hall of infamy sited in South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Longstay expats in Thailand may not agree with the report’s low score for their country of residence, especially if they live in rural areas a long way from the big cities and tourist hubs.
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