Tourists Snapping Runway Selfies at Phuket Airport Risk Death Penalty

Roman Schwartz
April 10, 2019

Mai Khao Beach in Phuket, Thailand has attracted thousands of holidaymakers who flock to the island for one special reason - to take selfies close to landing planes.

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, the beach has become known as the "unseen Phuket", due to the practice of beachgoers capturing photos of themselves with the low-flying aircraft.

Located on the island's northwestern coast, Mai Khao beach has been a popular destination for tourists who wants to swim, sunbake and watch planes fly extremely low before landing on the airport's runway.

Tourists will no longer be able to take pictures below landing planes, under new rules enforced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Locals and tourists have also been urged to avoid flying drones and shining flashlights at planes, which have equally become a distraction for incoming planes. Those found taking photos inside the safety zone are in violation of Thai law, and are subject to punishments under the Air Navigation Act. With the maximum penalty being a death sentence.

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Meanwhile, Sukris Koyakradej, a member of Phuket Tourist Association's executive committee told South China Morning Post: "I took photos there two years ago, when it was not made popular by social media yet".

"The airport wants to boost tourism revenues, but at the same time, it must make sure there will not be any problem with aviation regulations ... Tourism and safety must coexist".

Mr Kaeothaithiam said moving forward, the end of the beach near the runway will fall under a newly developed "off limits" safety zone, which will take effect soon.

"This will impact local tourism in our area".

'If the beach is closed, we will have serious problems because many tourists simply will not come, ' Winai Sae-io, head of a local entrepreneurial stimulus program, told The Phuket News.

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