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Thai cave could be turned into a tourist attraction and Hollywood film

Wednesday - 11/07/2018 09:36
BIG plans are in store for the Thai cave where 12 boys and their coach were trapped. But some say it might be an insensitive move.
The Thai cave where 12 boys and their coach were trapped could be turned into a big tourist attraction and Hollywood film.Source:AFP
The Thai cave where 12 boys and their coach were trapped could be turned into a big tourist attraction and Hollywood film.Source:AFP

THE Tham Luang cave complex may be empty now, but big plans appear to be in place for it.

Officials are reportedly preparing for the Chiang Rai site to become a “world-class tourist attraction”, while Hollywood producers are in discussion about making a major film out of it.

But while the 12 boys and their coach are all free, some have questioned whether such a move would be insensitive, particularly in light of the death of retired Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan.

‘A WORLD-CLASS TOURIST ATTRACTION’

The Thai cave looks set to become a massive new moneymaker.

Thai officials have hinted the Tham Luang complex where the dramatic rescue mission unfolded may be turned into a sightseeing destination.

“In this crisis situation, today, I don’t want to talk about work, but I think the Thai people, we are lucky that we are going to have a world-class tourist attraction,” Thailand’s deputy head of national parks Chongklai Woraponsathron said.

Last week, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said it planned to promote the Tham Luang cave as a tourist attraction after it featured so prominently in the news.

The agency is expecting a major increase in visitors to the 10km limestone cave after the rescue garnered global attention.

The Tham Luang cave, where 12 boys and their coach were trapped for more than two weeks, looks set to become a major tourist attraction in Thailand.
The Tham Luang cave, where 12 boys and their coach were trapped for more than two weeks, looks set to become a major tourist attraction in Thailand.Source:AP

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said extra precautions would have to be implemented to safeguard tourists wanting to visit the cave.

“In future, we have to monitor the entrance and exit to the cave. This cave has become world-famous … we have to install more lights inside the cave and put up signs,” he told reporters in Bangkok.

He also said the cave was “dangerous” and added that it would be closed to the public until “everything is in order”.

The decision ultimately rests with the Thailand Department of Natural Resources, but it wouldn’t be totally outlandish.

For one thing, the place is steeped in local history.

According to Fairfax, the cave is known to locals as the Tham Luang Nang Non — the great cave of the sleeping lady — and from an angle does vaguely resemble a person lying down.

Locals believe the sleeping lady was a princess who fell pregnant to a local stablehand. The devastated princess killed herself after her father ordered his soldiers to kill the boy, and the legend now goes that the water flowing through the cave is her blood.

The cave complex has an important backstory for locals.
The cave complex has an important backstory for locals.Source:Instagram

For another, a number of similarly devastating or dramatic events around the world have become tourist sites.

In 1987, baby Jessica McClure Morales became famous after she fell into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Midland, Texas. The incident attracted national attention, and city officials later placed a commemorative plaque that drew visitors to the spot. The girl had to have surgery, but survived.

Likewise “dark tourism” hot spots — tragic sites like Auschwitz, Alcatraz and Aokigahara, Japan’s suicide forest — are gaining traction globally among more adventurous travellers.

Whether travelling to the Thai cave counts as a “dark tourist” hotspot — given the rescue mission was successful and all the trapped boys survived — is another debate altogether.

CAVE CONSIDERED FOR HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER

Hollywood producers are already considering turning the rescue mission into a blockbuster.

A US film crew arrived at the foothills of the Tham Luang mountain cave system in Chiang Rai province as the rescue operation entered its third and final day.

Pure Flix films managing partner Michael Scott told AAP in Chiang Rai, “I see this as a major Hollywood film with A-list stars.”

Mr Scott and co-producer Adam Smith were conducting preliminary interviews around the Tham Luang cave site, and also intended to bring in a screenwriter and interview key players from the team of foreign rescuers and Thai Navy SEALs, the victims and their families and seek exclusive rights to their stories.

Asked if their actions might be seen as insensitive at such a delicate time — bearing in mind that five people were still trapped at this time — Mr Smith said: “There’s going to be other production companies coming in so we have to act pretty quickly.”

Mr Scott, who’s married to a Thai woman and spends three months a year in Thailand, said they are not pressing people over the interviews.

“I’ve told them once this has died down let’s really sit down and have a more in-depth interview on what’s really happening,” he said.

Hollywood producers are already considering turning the rescue mission into a blockbuster.
Hollywood producers are already considering turning the rescue mission into a blockbuster.Source:Supplied

Pure Flix is based in Scottsdale, Arizona and Los Angeles and describes itself as a faith and family production and distribution film company. Its biggest film so far is God’s Not Dead (2014), which made close to $US70 million ($A94 million) worldwide produced on a budget of $US2 million ($A2.7 million).

Mr Scott believes the cave rescue story, which will be centred around the two British divers who discovered the boys, is the perfect project for Pure Flix.

“This just kind of fits our DNA in terms of a really inspirational story,” he said during an interview conducted late Monday.

“It’s got incredible heart, incredible acts of heroism and bravery. It’s just an incredible thing and we think it will inspire millions around the world.”

National Cave Rescue Mission co-ordinator Anmar Mirza told CBS News it would be difficult to recreate the story as a movie.

“You can’t make a horror movie that would even compare,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in cave rescue for 30 years and I cannot even think of one that is this complicated.”

— With wires

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