Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Thailand: Dark side of tour hot spot

Auckland student Sarah Carter, who was one of six tourists to die suddenly in a suspected pesticide poisoning, was among the high-profile fatalities in Thailand last year. Photo / Supplied
Auckland student Sarah Carter, who was one of six tourists to die suddenly in a suspected pesticide poisoning, was among the high-profile fatalities in Thailand last year. Photo / Supplied

Thailand has become one of the most dangerous travel destinations for New Zealanders. Ten Kiwis were killed and 19 seriously injured there last year.

Only Australia and the United Kingdom had more fatalities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade released the figures under the Official Information Act.

Auckland student Sarah Carter, who was one of six tourists to die suddenly in a suspected pesticide poisoning, was among the high-profile fatalities in Thailand last year.

The Kiwi president of the World Croquet Federation Charles Jones was murdered by a former soldier in the resort town of Pattaya.

Other travel experts blamed Thailand's relaxed drink-drive laws, chaotic roads and a party atmosphere.

New Zealanders with little experience on motorcycles follow the lead of locals and go without helmets. New laws make helmets compulsory in some towns but are not policed.

Australia and the United Kingdom top the list of places where New Zealanders die, with 19 killed in Australia and 16 killed in the UK. This is explained by of the numbers travelling to these areas.

Overseas medical treatment is expensive and Brett Solvander of the Insurance Council of New Zealand said comprehensive insurance was an essential.

In Southeast Asia, daily hospital costs exceed $900 and the cost of medical evacuations from the United States range from $95,000 to $125,000.

"Treatment and repatriation can run into the hundreds of thousands," he said.

MFAT and New Zealand Embassies can help after the death of a New Zealander overseas, by contacting family, providing English-speaking lawyers and helping with arrangements but cannot pay bills, give legal advice or get New Zealanders out of prison.

Deborah Gee from MFAT said New Zealanders should register their details on the safetravel website so they, and family members back home, can be contacted easily in an emergency.

- Herald on Sunday

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