Travellers in Thailand’s tourist hotspots on the south-east coast are bracing for Tropical Storm Pabuk to hit the region on Friday, January 4, at 7pm local time (2pm South Africa). Many travellers have already left the islands for the safety of the mainland, ahead of the worst tropical storm predicted to arrive in the country in decades.
Rain is already falling around the Gulf of Thailand. The country’s Meteorological Department has reported that Tropical Storm Pabuk is expected to bring heavy rains, wind and five-metre waves to the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, with the Andaman islands of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi also likely to be affected.
“We advise travellers in and heading to Thailand to monitor the situation closely and follow the guidelines of the local authorities,” said Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group General Manager, Product and Marketing.
“We would strongly suggest all travellers save the contact information for their travel agent, travel insurance company, local emergency services and embassy so that it is close to hand should it be needed urgently.”
The Flight Centre Travel Group advises travellers already in the region to:
*Monitor the local weather forecast. Use a couple of different apps and/or websites to get information from multiple sources.
*Monitor local and social media and turn on push notifications to receive updates.
*Save the contact details for the local embassy or consular services, and emergency services (different branches may have different numbers). Ensure the information is saved in an offline location too should your phone battery die and you need to call from a payphone or landline.
*Have your travel insurance information to hand and know when to call. If you have booked your trip through a travel agent or a tour company, save their contacts too.
*Keep mobile devices charged.
*Put aside a storm kit including unperishable food, bottled drinking water, candles and matches, a first aid kit, medication, torch, phone charger, batteries and cash.
*Know what form evacuation notices will take – for example, a siren, police announcement, text message, etc – and be prepared to comply with them. Check with your hotel or local authorities. Put together a grab bag that contains your ID, passport, travel documents, insurance information, medication, snacks and a bottle of water.
*Comply with advice from the local authorities at all times.
*Be prepared for travel delays and disruption.
*Check in with friends and family.
*If the situation takes a turn for the worse, check in with your local embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.
The Flight Centre Travel Group advises travellers heading to the region to:
*Check in with your airline and travel agent to find out if your trip will be impacted.
*Monitor media reports.
*Talk to your travel insurance provider to check what is/is not covered, and plan accordingly.
*While it is possible that the storm may not affect certain areas as predicted, Flight Centre Travel Group recommends that travellers should be prepared and take all necessary precautions for their safety.