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The impounded jet-ski at Patong police station

Bangkok Horror at YouTube 'Threat to Tourism'

Friday, November 20, 2009
THE SENATE Committee on Tourism met with Phuket's leading officials and tourism industry representatives today and projected an illuminating view of the island's future.

Phuket Member of Parliament Rewat Areerob told the gathering that diplomats from China, Australia, Korea and Japan had complained lately about jet-ski rip-offs, the high price of tuk-tuks, ladyboy cheats, and lack of public transport.

He said that the 330,000 registered Phuket citizens paid taxes that had to support an infrastructure for hundreds of thousands of Thais from other provinces, hundreds of thousands of tourists, and at least 100,000 legal and illegal Burmese workers.

Because of the lack of proper funding, disposing of garbage at a rate of 600 tonnes a day was just one of Phuket's difficulties.

The chairman of the committee, Torpong Chaisan, said the screening of the television series 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand' was one of the reasons the committee had come to visit Phuket.

They would like to close down YouTube screenings of the series on the internet, which has a worldwide audience, but YouTube management had told them there ''had to be a victim who suffered'' for the footage to be removed.

The committee spent some time discussing Winai ''JJ'' Naiman, whose case of alleged extortion, arising from the series has yet to come to court.

The vice president of Patong Jet-Ski Association, Singtong Jalernsub, told the meeting that Khun Winai's father was from the Netherlands, and his mother was a Thai from Udonthani.

Khun Winai was born on Phuket. ''JJ takes care of jet-skis for many other people as well because he has good English skills,'' Khun Sintong said.

Committee vice chairman Thitima Chaisang asked whether ''JJ'' was the best person to represent Phuket jet-ski owners in dealing with tourists.

''Why don't other people know how to speak English so they can all talk to the tourists?

''Why aren't people taught how to behave properly with people from other countries who come here?

''Why hasn't the local tessaban taught people the skills they need to be good tourism ambassadors?

''Please don't tell me that JJ is still fulfilling this role as the main contact for tourists on Patong beach.''

Khun Sintong said that JJ was only called in when other jet-ski renters discovered they couldn't properly communicate with tourists.

The committee laughed at this response.

When asked whether he thought the scene depicted in the reality television show 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand' was genuine or playacting, Khun Sintong said he thought it was genuine.

''JJ would like to be famous,'' he said.

Permission for making the controversial series came from Bangkok, not Phuket, Deputy Patong Mayor Chairat Sukhban told the committee.

''Why try to find a victim now?'' he said ''The damage has been done. Thousands of people around the world have seen the series.''

Committee chairman Khun Torpong said much of their time was taken up with reading reports in Bangkok when clearly, they needed to see the real situation, as depicted on 'Big Trouble' and YouTube on Phuket and other destinations in Thailand.

''We have to skip the paperwork,'' he said.

Phuket was the first stop for the committee because of its importance to Thailand. The income from Phuket tourism amounted to 94 billion baht a year.

''With good management and a decent image, the income could be 150 billion baht a year,'' he said.

Khun Torpong said that having seen the show, he could not say who was right and who was wrong in the case involving JJ, but the image of Thailand was clearly going to suffer.

It came at the worst possible time, when political uncertainty also complicated Thailand's future. Phuket, the pulse of tourism, had to be kept beating in a healthy fashion, he said.

It was at least good to see that the Governor of Phuket had reacted to end the jet-ski problem, he said.
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Tourist Anger as Patong Prices Soar Out of Control
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> They would like to close down YouTube
> screenings of the series on the
> internet, ...

Kind of typical reaction: Don't change anything causing the mishaps, just don't talk about it. If it will go on like this, we will never see changes to the better.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on November 20, 2009 18:50

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It's blame the victim and not deal with the problem again. How can Phuket be a world class tourism location when tourist are ripped off by jet ski operators, tuk-tuk mafia, corrupt police, and two tier pricing system. Wake up Phuket. The world is in recession and people will think twice coming here if they feel they are going to get ripped off. Youtube is not the problem!!!!!

Posted by Anonymous on November 21, 2009 00:34

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Have to agree with fritz why shoot the messenger if it wasn't for big trouble jj would still be scamming tourists, along with all the others. I have asked editor wht has jj not been punished yet and why do we not get information as to what is happening about him. typical thai way just keep shtum and blame everyone else.

Editor: As we've reported, JJ's case remains in the hands of prosecutors. The case against him centres on the issue of whether the incident was genuine or whether it was contrived for the camera.

Posted by william dale on November 21, 2009 00:41

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Who gives a tosser about who did right, who did wrong here? I had eight friends coming here for Christmas and now they say stuff Thailand, it is a scam country and they are now promoting elsewhere destinations, not Thailand.

Well guess what, I am leaving too.
Bye Thailand forever.

Posted by Mouse on November 21, 2009 16:07

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Cut the cr@/), actions in motion speak louder than words. Thai tourism is almost dead. Sorry but true.

Posted by Pinky on November 21, 2009 16:13

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I'm surprise of the surprised comment. This is the way the orient deal with the problems since ever. It really doesn't matter who scam who and so on, the real problem is youtube. The only thing it's important is, don't lose the face.

Posted by Malpelo on November 22, 2009 17:31

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JJ, a good command of English ? Please do not insult the English language!

I have just come back to Phuket from Bali, the situation concerning the state of streets, roads etc is worse than last march, and the island seems pretty empty to me

.My favorite restaurant had about 20 people compared to around 100 the last two nights. I am already considering Hua Hin as my next move!

Posted by elizabeth on November 23, 2009 11:08

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A couple of weeks ago, the three newspapers in Phuket reported that there would be a jetski good-will giveaway last Thursday, in which all jetskis would congregate on Patong's beach and, for one day, give free rides.

Two friends - a Farang and a Thai - came to that event and report that every single jetski operator admitted that the announcement had been made, but that there would be no free rides except for the Governor's two minute photo opportunity.

SO WHERE'S THE REPORTING on this important demonstration of the jetski industry's continued parade of ripoff scams???

Nothing has changed: the jetski operators are still crocodiles feeding.

Editor: Phuketwan did not report that there would be free rides (at least, not that I could find.) Perhaps there was the usual confusion . . . it's hardly a sign of a return to the bad old ways.

Posted by Miffed on December 2, 2009 22:07

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I suspect there has probably been confusion over two phrases, a ''free-for-all'' - which is what the jet-skis are every day - and ''freeloader'' . . . which is apt for people who expect something for nothing.

Posted by Angelfire on December 3, 2009 09:42

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I'm leaving phuket tomorrow after six years.
At least i won't look like an ATM in my own country, it's a national sport to extort money.

Posted by jim on December 14, 2009 17:02


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