Danish Tourists Return to Khao Lak

Almost two years after the deadly tsunami hit Thailand in December 2004, Danes can now purchase vacation packages to the island of Phuket through the Danish travel agency Star Tour. Phuket was one of the hardest-hit areas, when the tsunami devastated large parts of Southeast Asia.
     Ever since then, the city of Khao Lak – where a large number of Scandinavians died – has been working hard to get back on its feet in order to re-establish its lucrative tourist industry. Now, it seems, their efforts are being rewarded with Star Tour putting Khao Lak back on their list of travel destinations.

Starting Up Slowly
However, Star Tour’s own sales director, Stig Elling, openly admits that the Danish travel agency has no idea whether Danes will want to spend their vacation on the very beaches where so many people lost their lives.
     ”It’s a good question [if Danish tourists will re-embrace Khao Lak as a holiday destination]. We have strong feelings associated with Khao Lak, where we also lost some of our own staff members. But life must go on, and now we will re-open this destination slowly,” Stig Elling tells Danish daily Politiken, referring to the fact that Khao Lak will not be included in Star Tour’s printed catalogue to begin with, but only as an online offer.
     That way, the agency will leave it up to those who are really interested in finding travels to Khao Lak to find these offers themselves instead of through a heavy marketing campaign.
     “We have five or six hotels in Khao Lak, compared to 14 before the tsunami. People in Khao Lak deserve to have tourists come back to their area,” says Stig Elling.
     He emphasizes that Star Tour has purposely decided not to refer to hotels with special facilities for children. When the tsunami hit, a group of children traveling with Star Tour’s Children’s Club were on the beach in Khao Lak – all of them drowned.

Warning Systems In Place
Generally, Danes are still very interested in going to Thailand. Seven out of ten trips have already been sold, but Star Tour is not expecting that Khao Lak will return to the previous sales numbers.
     “It will most likely only be guests who have been there before and who know the place,” Stig Elling predicts.
Should disaster strike again, Star Tour trusts that the warning systems which have been set up since the tsunami will prevent the loss of human life.
     “If it happens again, the Thais are ready to evacuate – and the attitude is that you should rather evacuate one time too many than one time too little,” he says.

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