PHUKET: In a positive sign that changes are coming on Phuket, Immigration officials at Phuket International Airport have stopped imposing a 200 baht ''tax'' on all early morning arrivals from China.
China's Consul in Had Yai, Qin Jian, passed on the good news yesterday to Phuketwan
. He said the last report he'd had about the ''tax'' was on August 1.
Since then, he said, tour operators have reported that the tax, imposed on Chinese arriving in Phuket on early-morning flights, had ceased.
Qin Jian was with the Chinese Ambassador, Guan Mu, when he made a public appeal to Phuket officials in May to end corruption and to better protect and inform Chinese tourists.
His strongly-worded call for improvements was followed with a similar message imparted to Phuket's Governor, Maitree Intrusud, at a summit of European Union ambassadors on Phuket in June.
Their direct plea to Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak led to the Department of Special Investigations heading the present campaign to deal with issues raised by the Chinese and European ambassadors.
Another positive sign of change comes on Tuesday when Phuket's honorary consuls meet with the governor and other Phuket administrators for the first time in 11 months.
A plan to segregate honorary consuls into two groups, Thai and non-Thai, for separate, secluded meetings met with objections from all the envoys.
Tuesday's gathering at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City is expected to be open to the media. It's the forum where the views and complaints of tourists and expat residents are usually passed on.
Although there is no formal agenda, Governor Maitree is expected to note the positives on Phuket that have come recently with the launch of an Airport-Patong public bus service, the opening of two Crime Crisis Centres on Phuket, and the promise of an extra 700 police officers.
Tighter controls over what happens on and around Phuket's beaches are another positive, along with the seminars being held for tuk-tuk, taxi and jet-ski operators, and looming action on several other fronts.