Thailand May Make Tourists Wear Wristbands

Would help track drunk and lost visitors

Oct 1, 2014
Outside Magazine

Thailand's Tourism and Sports minister said the ID wristbands would help tourists get assistance easily if they need it.    tupungato/Thinkstock

Thailand’s tourism minister is batting around the idea of making tourists wear identification wristbands when they visit. The concept comes amid concerns over tourist safety, prompted by the murder of two British backpackers in September.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were killed on the island of Koh Tao, and their bodies were found on September 15. Police have no leads on suspects so far. 

Tourism and Sports minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told Reuters that she had brought up the idea to several hotels of handing out ID wristbands so they can keep track of tourists who may get in trouble. 

“When tourists check into a hotel, they will be given a wristband with a serial number that matches their ID and shows the contact details of the resort they are staying in, so if they’re out partying late and, for example, get drunk or lost, 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.” 

Kobkarn’s idea has met with some resistance, and she told Reuters that while most people are receptive, hotels are concerned that tourists will not want to wear the wristbands.

Other ideas are organizing a buddy system that would pair tourists with a “local minder” at tourist spots, putting a cap on party hours on some of the country’s islands, and imposing restrictions on where beach parties can be held. 

Thai authorities have tried other tourist safety measures in the past. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, after a murder in 2008, a former tourism minister said that female tourists would be given emergency whistles.

Tourism accounts for nearly 10 percent of Thailand’s GDP, and the sector has recently taken a hit due to a military coup, violent street protests, and the murders.