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Big news in France: how one newspaper covered the case

No Answer to Arrest of Honest Tourists

Monday, May 20, 2013
PHUKET: Immigration at Phuket International Airport has yet to explain why a French couple with an infant daughter were arrested and fined after they accidentally avoided being given visas on arrival.

The Vice President of the Phuket Tourist Association, Sarayuth Mallam, asked Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut today whether Immigration overreacted or not.

Governor Maitree said he could not respond because he did not know about the case. He said he would solve the problem if he had been informed, but he had not been informed.

There was no representative from Immigration at the meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City but the General Manager of Phuket International Airport, Prathuang Somkhom, was able to provide details.

Ten passengers from a Qatar Airways flight that arrived on Phuket early in May took a wrong turn and departed from Phuket airport without Immigration passport visa stamps or arrival cards.

Four days later, the honest French couple returned to the airport to have the error corrected. They were arrested, fined, and later put back on their holiday departure flight like criminals being deported.

The couple went back to the airport after being told by a bookings agent for a day-trip who looked at their passports that they needed visas and arrivals cards.

Phuketwan has since learned that the couple, who were on their first trip overseas, thought something was amiss and mentioned it to the taxi driver on the way from the airport to their hotel in Patong. The driver told them not to worry.

When the couple asked again at the hotel's reception counter, the receptionist also told them not to worry.

Airport General Manager Khun Prathuang admitted the airport was more difficult to navigate because of expansion construction work but said it was the responsibility of the airline to make sure passengers negotiated Immigration without problems.

France's Ambassador to Thailand became involved in the case when Immigration officers insisted he write a letter before the honest couple, taken to the local police station and charged over the incident, could be allowed to go free on bail.

Qatar Airways put up the bail of 20,000 baht for each of the adults. There was talk at one stage of charging the 22-month-old child.

Immigration officials went ahead and charged the couple despite advice from an officer at Tachatchai Police Station that it seemed an unreasonable thing to do.

The following day a judge fined the couple 2000 baht each for entering Phuket illegally and imposed a sentence of two months' jail, suspended on condition they were of good behavior for one year.

The couple and their daughter later boarded a flight home, having been made to wait until all the other passengers were on board before being escorted to the entryway by an Immigration officer.

It is not known whether the other seven passengers suffered any kind of penalty. A fourth passenger was also from France and others were from Jordan, Russia, Lithuania, Kuwait and Lebanon.

Governor Maitree said he would investigate the issue.

The article reporting the punishment inflicted on the honest couple has been read by more people than any other article on Phuketwan so far this month.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


taxi driver said i have your fare no worry, hotel reception said we have your accomodation money no worry, anyone who has your money says no worry in this country, well immigration are worried over their loss of face and this was the reaction & response.

Posted by slickmelb on May 20, 2013 23:39


TAT should apologise and offer them a free vacation in Thailand as VIP guests. One happy tourist may speak to few friend his good experience about his journey but an unhappy tourist will denigrate and speak loudly to all his friends about his bad experience during his holidays especially when forums are read by thousands of travelers.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 21, 2013 09:16


@slickmelb: and what of the tour agent who informed the french couple?? did he also tell them not to worry??
ultimately the responsibility lies with the airport and immigration staff.. nobody else..

Posted by another steve on May 21, 2013 10:46


@ steve they found the rarest commodity in all of thailand with that tour guide
a honest man,which is harder than finding three wise men, absolutely the resposibilty is in the airport & immigration camps.

Posted by slickmelb on May 24, 2013 01:19

Thursday May 23, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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