Tourist numbers soar but it's not all sunny

Tourists taking pictures at Phuket's Mai Khao Beach as a plane approaches Phuket International Airport.

With its palm-fringed beaches, Buddhist culture and racy nightlife, Thailand has been the poster child for Asian tourism for decades, attracting a range of visitors from backpackers and adventure-seekers, to families and culture vultures.

But dark clouds could be forming even as a record 32 million tourists are expected this year. Woeful road safety, accidents at sea, scams and even angry elephants have added to what seems like a never-ending litany of bad news.

"Visitor volume is high but, with that, the probability of crime also increases," Mr Surapong Techaruwichit, chairman of the Hotel Association of Thailand, told Reuters.

"We need to reassure tourists that Thailand is safe."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'Tourist numbers soar but it's not all sunny'. Print Edition | Subscribe