A Thai navy vessel searches for missing passengers from the capsized boat in the accident area in Phuket, Thailand, July 8, 2018. (Xinhua/Qin Qing)
(ECNS) - China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has ordered an immediate review of overseas tourism products after two boats carrying Chinese tourists capsized in waters off Phuket, Thailand.
The ministry has ordered online travel companies and platforms to check and suspend "unqualified" self-help products as well as guide tourists in planning their itineraries, reported China National Radio.
Tourism product suppliers are required to better inform travellers of risks, according to the ministry. Online tourism enterprises and platforms need to establish and improve their emergency response mechanisms, clarify responsibilities and strengthen information sharing to guide tourists in rationally planning travel.
Xie Chaowu, deputy director of Tourism Safety Research Institute at Huaqiao University, said online travel platforms need to ensure their products and services are safe and must do more to make customers aware of potential risks.
Some netizens who said they had booked the one-day sea trip in Thailand revealed that the travel platform refused to refund their money when they wanted to cancel after learning about the bad weather. Consequently, some ventured out into the sea so they did not waste money.
CNR also reported that some private ships rented by travel agencies in Phuket had safety loopholes due to the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists.
Thai authorities had issued warnings about strong winds and rain before the two boats started their journeys. Local police also urged travel operators not to sail into the Andaman Sea. Most of the Chinese onboard were tourists who arranged their journey through online platforms, including 61 via Alibaba’s travel service arm Fliggy.com.
Xinhua cited Thailand's Phuket Provincial Governor Norraphat Plodthong as saying on Monday that 42 people were killed, five were missing and 42 passengers rescued in the capsizal accident of boat "Phoenix."