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The stabbing of an Italian journalist by a gang of young Thai robbers on July 3 has ushered in a new system that will help fund medical treatment for visitors who are attacked and injured in Phuket.
Investigative journalist Antonia Papaleo spent three weeks in hospital after he was stabbed, and had to have his spleen removed.
Santi Pawai, director of the Phuket Office of Tourism and Sport (POTS) explained, “As soon as I heard about the case [of Mr Papaleo], I called the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in Bangkok.
“ The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has a total budget of around B20 million for [such cases] throughout Thailand. We plan to set up a committee in Phuket to help tourists in the future, so that each case can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.”
Each case will be considered on its merits, he said, and “not every case will be approved however. “For example, we receive several cases everyday involving tourists who are too drunk to get on their flights.”
The amounts awarded will depend on the situation. For example, if tourists are injured in a natural disaster, a terrorist act, an assault, a rape or an accident, they may receive a special grant and immediate help. If the accident involves alcohol or drugs there will be no award.
Tourists may receive a grant of B100,000 for medical costs or as much as B300,000 if they lose a limb or an organ. Rape victims will get B20,000.
If the tourist is required to stay in hospital and this affects their travel plans, they may receive an additional B2,000 per day for up to 10 days, for food and accommodation.
Pol Col ML Pattanajak Jakkapan, superintendent of Kamala Police Station, said, “The reason for this is the Antonio Papaleo case.
“He suffered a cut spleen in the attack and was taken to Patong Hospital initially and then to Vachira Hospital where he stayed for around 10 days.
“We discovered that all nine offenders who attacked Antonio already had criminal records. We arrested eight and are still looking for the ninth.
“Pol Maj Gen Krajang Suwannarat, heading the Phuket Police Force, and other senior police officers, believe that tourists should not be faced with such terrible situations. So we cooperated with the Phuket Tourist Association and the POTS to find the best way to help.”
Sathirapong Na Takuatung, the new president of the Phuket Tourism Association, thanked Vachira Phuket Hospital for offering support to the officials and for making generous grants to tourists.