BANGKOK, Thailand - The Thailand Golf Association is moving the venue of its Thailand Open tournament this March to tsunami-stricken Phuket in an attempt to benefit the area's ailing tourist industry.
"We would like to let foreigners know that now Phuket is safe," a TGA spokeswoman said Thursday on behalf of the tournament's chairman, Sompong Dowspiset.
The association decided to change the location to Phuket about a week after the Dec. 26 tsunami. The March 3-6 tournament had originally been scheduled for Pattaya, another resort area, on Thailand's eastern seaboard.
Thailand's public and private sectors have pitched in to try to revive tourism in the southern resort areas around Phuket, whose many hotels and related businesses are starving for customers.
More than 5,300 people in Thailand are confirmed dead from the tsunami, and another 3,100 unaccounted for. But most hotels in the affected parts of southern Thailand, especially in Phuket itself, suffered little or no damage.
Asian tour chief executive Louis Martin said in a statement that the organization was fully supportive of the change in venue to Phuket's Blue Canyon Country Club and have discussed ways to raise funds.
"This could be through a charity Pro-Am or an auction where Asian Tour stars could donate their equipment or memorabilia," Martin said. "We will do our best to help in Thailand's recovery from this terrible disaster."
The Asian tour has already announced a "Tsunami Relief Fund Pro-Am" on Jan. 31 at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course in Singapore, with proceeds going to international humanitarian relief efforts.