Tourists face death penalty for taking pictures on Thai beach

Tourists are at risk of hefty fines, years in jail or being executed for taking selfies at the Mai Khao beach.

The popular Mai Khao beach, nicknamed ‘the selfie runway’, is right by Phuket International Airport. It sees a lot of visitors taking pictures right underneath landing planes.

Airport bosses fear tourists snapping away could distract pilots and cause crashes. As a result, they are now planning to close a section of the beach, with trespassers facing a maximum penalty of death.

Less serious punishments include a jail sentence of up to 20 years or a fine of up to £950.

The airport’s deputy chief Wichit Kaeothaithiama said authorities have to abide by strict International Civil Aviation Organisation rules.

“The maximum penalty is the death sentence” he added, as a warning to future beachgoers.

While he saw the importance of boosting tourism in the area, it can’t be done at the expense of safety. The beach has become a must-see for many holidaymakers looking for a great addition to their social media profiles.


Locals fear closing the beach could serious damage tourism on the island, visited by 5.3 million tourists a year.

Winai Sae-io, head of a local entrepreneurial stimulus program said. “If the beach is closed, we will have serious problems because many tourists simply will not come. I want the authorities to look at us and support locals in making a living here too”.

People within a nine-kilometre radius of the airport have also been warned not to fly drones or shine torches at planes.

The advice comes after hundreds of flights were grounded at London’s Gatwick Airport due to drone sightings in December 2018 and a number of similar incidents around the world.

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