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From fines to execution: Phuket tourists warned to think twice about ‘runway selfies’

Visitors to Thailand who are looking to tick so-called ‘runway selfies’ off their bucket list may soon kick the bucket themselves under a new Thai law which would impose penalties ranging from fines to execution.

“People and tourists will not be allowed to enter this area to take photos,” Phuket International Airport deputy chief Wichit Kaeothaithiam told the Bangkok Post. “The maximum penalty is the death sentence.”

A high price to pay for the perfect holiday snap (#maikhaobeach yields over 20,000 image results on Instagram), but authorities warn that the trend is distracting for pilots and adds unnecessary stress to an already busy commercial air traffic route which regularly handles up to 24 flights per hour, 24 hours a day.

With this in mind, authorities are declaring the ‘selfie zone’ at the end of the beach on the island’s northwestern coast off limits to tourists, with penalties ranging from a fine of up to 40,000 baht (about $1,253), a jail sentence of up to 20 years, or death under Thailand’s Air Navigation Act.

Drones and lights, particularly sunlight reflected off smartphone screens, have become major distractions for pilots landing in Phuket in recent years, and Kaeothaithiam insists that “tourism and safety must co-exist.”

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