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Journalists surround Dr Peerapon after his Patong speech

Phuket Authorities Told: 'Stop The Tourist Rip-Offs'

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
PHUKET had plenty to be proud of, the Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Dr Peerapon Taitasawit, said last night. But he went on to deliver a strongly critical message to local authorities.

The senior bureaucrat from Bangkok surprised many important island identities in the audience as he formally opened the Patong Carnival 2008.

What he had to say from the stage on the Patong beachfront shocked many listeners, who were expecting a typical ''welcome to the carnival'' speech.

In no uncertain terms, he made the point that the island's tessaban chiefs should serve the community rather than ''taking the opportunity to line their pockets.''

The Patong tessaban had supplied journalists with copies of the friendly carnival opening speech Dr Peerapon was supposed to make.

What he actually had to say was off the cuff, totally different, and it contained a strong message.

Dr Peerapon, who said he was a frequent visitor to Phuket for holidays with his family, warned that the high cost of tuk-tuks, jetskis and longtail taxi boats could turn foreign tourists away.

''If they are happy with the price, they will come back again and again,'' he said. ''If the prices are too high, it will have the opposite effect.''

A big profit today could mean low profit or even no profit tomorrow, he said.

The sharpness of Dr Peerapon's speech surprised many people in the audience, which included the mayor of Patong, Pian Keesin, the mayors of Karon and Kamala, and the Governor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan.

Dr Peerapon, one of Bangkok's highest-ranking public servants, said that as part of their role, tessabans needed to control the cost of transport services.

''More tourists will come, even in an economic downturn, if these kinds of costs are not allowed to get out of control,'' he said.

Dr Peerapon said that tourists on holiday do not come to Phuket to have arguments with tuk-tuk drivers about the high cost of short journeys.

Too many of those kinds of disputes will lead people to go to other places.

''Tuk tuk drivers and others should not take advantage of tourists,'' he said.

Dr Peerapon went on to urge the Tourism Authority of Thailand to bring journalists from CNN and Reuters to report that Phuket remains a safe destination.

He also sought to promote greater local interest in Phuket's environment.

''This is your home,'' he said. ''You should take care of your own home.''

Dr Peerapon also held talks with Governor Dr Preecha while on Phuket.

The Patong Carnival, extended this year to run for six days, closes with a second procession and more speeches on December 20.

Phuket Tourist Court Plan to Tackle Injustice
Phuket's new governor is looking closely at tuktuks, jetskis and justice for tourists to prevent the economic downturn bringing social disaster for the island's troubled tourism industry.
Phuket Tourist Court Plan to Tackle Injustice

Comments

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Every year for the last seven years we fly from the United States to come to Phuket. However, each year, we debate the value of Phuket as a destination precisely because of the tourist annoyances such as tuk tuk and the transportation monopoly on the island. With the recent Thailand airport crisis driving many visitors away, Phuket needs to present itself as a competitive destination. Many travelers are casting their eyes to other destinations which offer fewer hassles and less political uncertainty in the near term. If alleviating the tuk tuk issues and other tourist gouging practices prevalent in Phuket can really work, this will go a ways to helping Phuket regain its place as a favored tourist destination.

Posted by Spahkee on December 17, 2008 09:34

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I hope the Tessaban are listening to what Dr Peerapon had to say. I advise all my friends who are on a budget to go to Pattaya nowadays as you can get from Pattaya to Jontiem for just 40 baht and almost anywhere in Pattaya for 10 baht.
Shame on all the authorities here in Phuket .
(20 years on the island)

Posted by Russell Jones on December 17, 2008 15:11

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Finally someone of the official league, who spoke clearly about what everybody is thinking but was afraid to say. Thumbs up for Dr Peerapon!
(14 years on the island)

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on December 17, 2008 23:50

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I made my last trip to Phuket two years ago. With all the hassles of the tuk-tuk drivers and other scams there, NEVER again.
I go to Thailand quite often and go everywhere else, but not to Phuket.
I know many others with the same opinion.

Posted by P Petersen on December 19, 2008 20:27

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Pattaya style baht buses on circular routes around the popular places are the way to go. Everyone hates Phuket tuk-tuks and they should all be scrapped. Meter taxis should be available for longer journeys. Get rid of the jet ski mafia, the deck chair mafia and the tuk tuk mafia, create walking streets and beach promenades. Cover open sewage drains and it might be a nice place to visit. Otherwise, as another poster said: Advise your friends to visit other places.

Posted by Tony Soprano on December 22, 2008 18:20

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Just returned from Patong. Tourism seemed to be at least 60 per cent down, hardly any Aussies. Tuk tuks, clothing souvenirs not cheap anymore. You get mauled to buy goods and they ask outrageous prices. You need to come down to at least a 3rd of the price they are asking and it is still not that cheap, as you know everything is pirated copies.There are also the time share people annoying you telling you to scratch a card. It's rigged, everybody wins, they want you to go on a two-hour tour to con you out of thousands.

Posted by john armenopoulos on December 24, 2008 15:11

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Well said Dr Peerapon Taitasawit.
I've lived on the island for 5 years and went to Patong a few days ago - the second time in as many years. Tailors blocking my way holding out their hand as if I was a long lost friend, tuk-tuk drivers lounging against/sleeping in their machines, massage girls grabbing at any unaccompanied male, most public parking near the beach taken up by jeeps and bikes for hire, disgusting stench from open sewers, no pavement to speak of in most sois, no public transport like Pattaya or taxis like Bangkok...
If the new governor wants to make a name for himself, he knows exactly what he must do.
But I won't hold my breath.

Posted by Roger on December 29, 2008 21:00


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