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Flashback to Phuket in August: No arrests were ever contemplated

Fewer Scam Problems on Phuket, says Airport GM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
PHUKET Airport does not have the same level of scams and rip-offs as Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, the airport's General Manager, Prathuang Somkhom, told Phuketwan today.

But he did say there was a problem with ''black'' taxis, one of the issues that was due to be addressed in a crackdown at the big Bangkok airport today.

While new charter flights from China, Korea and Spain are boosting arrivals on the holiday island this month, international visitors to the capital slumped by almost 23 percent in June.

Allegations of duty free arrest scams have recently added to the tribulations that beset Thailand's travel industry, along with the economic downturn, the political uncertainty and the H1N1 pandemic.

Chris Bryant, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, raised the issue of police handling of airport shoplifting detainees with Thailand's Deputy Foreign Minister and the Deputy National Police Chief yesterday.

''Both gave firm assurances that any alleged misconduct would not happen again,'' a British Embassy spokesman said today.

Mr Bryant, who oversees the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is responsible for travel warnings, will be meeting the Director of the Airport this afternoon for further talks about airport scams.

This month marks the first for new Airports of Thailand President Serirat Prasutanond, who said in an interview today: ''We actually welcome complaints, which help us identify problems and deal with them.''

He was asked by a Bangkok Post reporter: ''What about those deceiving 'black-plate' taxi drivers and unscrupulous 'ghost' tour guides at the airport who prey on foreign passengers and tourists?''

His response: ''We have been chasing them for more than two years. We arrested and fined them 500 to 1000 baht each only to find them back on the scene soon.

''But we are not sitting idly. The AoT board has appointed a sub-committee, headed by the director-general of Department of Land Transport and Police, to deal with the taxi problems. AoT is not empowered to deal with those cases but relies on law enforcement agencies.''

He has this to say about last year's dramatic invasion and week-long blockade of the airport:

''What we did when the situation at Suvarnabhumi was getting out of hand [in December 2008] was to ask for help from the armed forces, who, unfortunately, did not turn up.

''The government must say airports cannot be closed and security forces must be there to thwart any attempt to lay siege. We pay a lot of tax to the state, so they should take care of our airports.''

As Phuketwan has pointed out, the first of the airport invasions took place on the island in August and the innovative idea was adopted again in the capital a few months later.

There has been an attempt to charge those who instigated the Suvarnabhumi invasion. But nothing has ever been done about the Phuket blockade.

On Phuket, talks were held on Saturday with taxi drivers, airport security, Immigration and AoT officials to try to find an answer to illegal taxis.

Khun Prathuang says he believes that Phuket's fresh air will help to keep the H1N1 threat to a minimum and the coming high season should see more flights and more passengers on the island.

Phuketwan Phuket News

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


One question to be asked, is why, when you come out of arrivals and go to a taxi stand with your hotel/house address, do they stop at an office a few hundred metres further on the right side of the road, and demand to know where you are going? This happens to me every time, so can someone give me another legal taxi address ? As for flying to Bangkok and then Phuket, I have now changed my route and fly thro KL, which is much more strikt but safer .

Posted by elizabeth on July 28, 2009 18:19


Great story but a very poor choice of image to promote it!

Posted by Tony Blignaut on July 29, 2009 00:56


500 to 1000 bahts fine!! What a joke.

Posted by Jean- Paul Patrick on July 29, 2009 09:35

Thursday February 25, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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