4th Feb 2020
The management of Phuket International Airport debunked rumors of death linked to the coronavirus at the airport, saying that it will hunt down the peddler of fake news.
Last week, the Airports of Thailand (AoT) said that it filed a formal complaint with the police against Konnika Jampaburee, who posted on social media of a supposed death of a foreigner at Phuket Airport due to the deadly virus.
The foreigner was covered with a white sheet and was being transferred into an ambulance, but the airport doctor on duty told The Phuket News that nobody died from the virus at the airport.
The AoT said that the complaint was filed under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, which states that any person involved in the import of data to a computer, “either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to that third party or the public” is illegal.
If found guilty, violators may be fined up to 100,000 baht or face up to five years in jail.
Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai said that the viral photo “affected Phuket’s tourism image.”
“The current situation has found that there is a lot of false news that undermines the credibility and confidence of Phuket,” he said.
“I want everyone to check before sharing any information on your social media or even face to face,” he added.
Meanwhile, the provinces of Chiang Mai and Phuket, as well as Bangkok, are suffering from a sudden drop in tourist arrivals following the onset of the virus.
Quoting Bill Barnett from hotel consultancy firm c9hotelworks.com, international tourist arrivals at Phuket Airport declined by 32.95 percent as compared with the same period in 2019.
“This virus is stripping our hotels and the beach resort of tourists in a way we’ve never seen before. Whether it’s an overreaction or real, the Chinese are almost gone and plenty of other tourists from around the world are canceling,” said a general manager from a four-star hotel in Phuket who requested anonymity.
“We are planning for the effects of this downturn to last for up to a year and we will see many smaller resorts go out of business,” the manager said.
According to news organization The Nation, tourists are seen on Patong beach last week were mainly from Japan, South Korea, Russia, and Europe, and a number of Chinese nationals who arrived in Thailand just before the virus spread. To recall, Chinese nationals are Thailand’s top tourism market.