Prison selfies: Thailand to boost economy by turning jails into tourist spots – travel

Thailand plans to flip about half its prisons into tourist points of interest to boost customer numbers because the Southeast Asian nation struggles to get well from an financial hunch induced by the coronavirus outbreak.

Sporting occasions, artwork exhibitions, cooking contests and souvenirs made by inmates might be rolled out in 72 of the nation’s 143 prisons, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin stated this week.

A pilot scheme is being examined in 5 prisons, together with these within the cities of Trat, Rayong and Ratchaburi, he stated.

This wouldn’t solely convey a lot-wanted guests, but in addition put together inmates for a “normal life in society” and alter the picture of prisons from being “a twilight world to a world of opportunities”, he added.

The idea of jail tourism shouldn’t be new. From excursions of Alcatraz in San Francisco to the infamous Hoa Lo jail in Hanoi that’s now a museum, prisons are main points of interest worldwide.

Some defunct prisons have even been transformed into luxurious accommodations, whereas a girls’s jail in Colombia has a restaurant run by inmates, and a Singapore jail hosts an annual charitable run.

But luring vacationers with out addressing basic issues about Thailand’s jail system, together with overcrowding and the big variety of girls inmates, is “not acceptable”, stated Debbie Stothard, founding father of Altsean, a human rights community.

“It’s a good idea if it’s meant to give prisoners more skills and help them integrate into society,” stated Stothard.

“But it has to be part of a broader rights-based approach to reform the system,” she advised the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.

Thailand has the most important jail inhabitants in Southeast Asia, and inmates have restricted entry to medical services, meals, water and sanitation, in accordance to a 2017 report by the International Federation for Human Rights.

A 2017 legislation was geared toward enhancing jail situations, and Thailand’s Justice Ministry has vowed to ease overcrowding, in addition to present vocational coaching for prisoners.

The tourism venture is part of this plan, Somsak stated.

Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy has taken successful from the coronavirus, with solely about 8 million guests anticipated this 12 months, a fifth of final 12 months’s whole.

But driving guests to correctional services shouldn’t be the reply, despite the fact that Thailand has efficiently turned the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Tarutao – which had been as soon as prisons – into in style tourist spots, stated Stuart McDonald, co-founding father of web site Travelfish.

“It raises significant concerns around the sensitivity of what is made available to the public, and how the rights and privacy of prisoners would be protected — for instance, would they have a choice not to participate?” he stated.

“Prisons should be working to rehabilitate prisoners regardless of any possible tourism appeal wrapped up in the process.”

(This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. Only the headline has been modified.)

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