Attack on foreigners gives tourism operators jitters

Attack on foreigners gives tourism operators jitters

Youssef Benhatoun in the yellow shirt and Othmane Tigzirine in the black shirt during police interrogation in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Tuesday. Photo by Chaiwat Satyaem
Youssef Benhatoun in the yellow shirt and Othmane Tigzirine in the black shirt during police interrogation in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Tuesday. Photo by Chaiwat Satyaem

Tourism business operators in Prachuap Khiri Khan raised concerns yesterday over tourist safety after two foreign tourists were attacked and robbed near Sam Roi Yot National Park on Tuesday.

Youssef Bemhatoun, from Italy, and Othmane Tigzirine, from Morocco, were attacked by three men who robbed them of their possessions including a rented motorcycle on a minor road in Sam Roi Yot district.

The pair, who are studying Thai kick-boxing at the 301 Muay Thai club in Ban Phu Yai in Sam Roi Yot district, were heading back to their accommodation when they were attacked.

Police said they went to a beach on the motorcycle but on the way back they ran out of petrol and were pushing the motorbike when the three men on another motorcycle attacked and robbed them of valuables including €200 (7,700 baht), credit cards and their passports.

The robbery was the latest in a series of high-profile tourist attacks in the province that have received foreign media attention since a British family was attacked during the Songkran holiday.

The incident on Tuesday prompted the Hua Hin/Cha Am Tourism Business Association to call a meeting yesterday to discuss the issue. Tourism Authority of Thailand officials also attended.

It was agreed more action was needed to ensure the safety of tourists.

Orasa Awutkhom, director of the Prachuap Khiri Khan tourism office, admitted this latest case would affect the country's reputation.

During Songkran three British tourists -- Lewis Owen, 68, his wife Rosemary, 65, and their 43-year-old son, Lewis John Owen -- were attacked in Hua Hin by four Thai men.

Video footage of the attack, which made headlines overseas, sparked a public outcry.

A manhunt is under way to track down and arrest the robbery suspects, the provincial police chief said yesterday.


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