Tourists may face the death penalty for entering an area of Mai Khao beach in Phuket, Thailand that will soon be closed over safety concerns because of airplane landings and selfies.
The area, known as the “Unseen Phuket,” is adjacent to runway 09 of the Phuket International Airport.
Planes approaching the island generally land on the runway, which means they fly directly above the area.
As such, the site has become a favorite spot for many beachgoers to take selfies with landing planes.
However, officials believe that the activity underneath them distracts pilots, raising safety concerns. A solution in the works is a safety zone.
“People and tourists will not be allowed to enter this area to take photos,” said Wichit Kaeothaithiam, the airport’s deputy chief, according to the Bangkok Post.
Wichit stressed that authorities must apply strict safety rules in accordance to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Those who violate will be subjected to punishments under Thailand’s Air Navigation Act.
“The maximum penalty is the death sentence,” he said.
Less severe punishments reportedly include fines of up to 40,000 baht ($1,260) and a jail sentence of up to 20 years.
Some already questioned the feasibility of implementing such safety zone, considering how accessible the area is.
“I took photos there two years ago, when it was not made popular by social media yet,” said Sukris Koyakradej, an official from the Phuket Tourist Association, according to the South China Morning Post. “I don’t think the airport can block the entrance to the beach because it is not part of the runway.”
Tharika Nokkaew, an official from Sirinat National Park, which oversees the beach’s management, also said that “there are always a lot of tourists there all the time.”