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Moves are underway to preserve the Phuket region's tourist appeal

Phuket Jet-Ski Push, Insurance for All Tourists Win Support at Envoys' Meeting

Friday, June 28, 2013
Brave Enough to Change Phuket

PHUKET: An agreement that jet-skis on Phuket would all be registered and insured within 90 days was reached at a meeting involving envoys, top police and representatives from several ministries today, according to sources.

But the most intense talk at the ''very positive'' gathering in Bangkok concerned a suggestion that all tourists visiting Thailand should have travel insurance.

The idea won the support of virtually everyone at the meeting with only Ministry of Tourism and Sport officials less than enthusiastic, sources said.

Phuket representatives, officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Transport Ministry and the Marine Department joined the Australian and Canadian Ambassadors, European Union envoys, senior police, the Minister for Tourism and Sport and the department's permanent secretary at the meeting.

Safety zones, the issue of drownings and beach warning flags, passports and the need for people to be able to work as volunteers without work permits were among the points discussed in two hours of talks.

''Many envoys were very upset about taxis,'' one source told Phuketwan. The meeting was told that at least 500 illegal taxis were still being driven around on the holiday island.

The point was made that the involvement of Bangkok might be needed to resolve issues that were beyond the capacity of local authorities to solve.

Ambassadors and embassy representatives were ''very much for'' making travel insurance compulsory for visitors to Thailand, the source said, adding that it was a positive meeting.

''For once it feels like we're getting somewhere,'' the source said. ''We want to work with the Thai authorities, not against them.''

The word ''mafia'' was used by Thai officials more than once in outlining some of Phuket's problems.

A first real aim will be to bring under control the jet-skis by setting a 90-day deadline for them all to be registered and fully insured.

Motorcycle hire was seen as a similar problem, but with vastly larger numbers involved than the jet-ski issue.

Today's meeting, organised by Tourism and Sport, carried on from a meeting of the EU ambassadors with Phuket's Governor and honorary consuls on Phuket a fortnight ago.

A follow-up meeting is planned for three or four months, with a date yet to be set.

Comments

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No travel insurance no entry to thailand sounds good to me they can sell travel insurance at the airport if they like for the fail to do sos.

Posted by slickmelb on June 28, 2013 21:01

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The word ''mafia'' was used by Thai officials more than once in outlining some of Phuket's problems.
According to the editor here, there is no such thing as mafia here in Phuket. Only a monopoly... So, ED , did you tell the officials your point of view as you do here in this forum so often, when a reader dares to use the "m-word"?

Posted by Charles on June 28, 2013 22:13

Editor Comment:

It appears you can't distinguish between the real world of the journalism we publish and the unreal comments by readers. A ''mafia'' can refer to the local knitting circle, which is why the word is not accurate, and probably why none of the envoys at the meeting used it. No reader ''dares'' to use the m-word? Those that do just don't know any better.

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The word ''mafia'' was used by Thai officials more than once in outlining some of Phuket's problems.

Thai Officials, ED

Posted by poiuy on June 28, 2013 22:55

Editor Comment:

We've been through this all before Our policy is that we use the word in context when it's used by others in articles but we'd prefer greater precision in the comments. Why? Because many readers still think the word relates to the Mafia, when it's really no such thing.

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And by the real world of journalism, you mean only phuketwan, right? You must be joking, now.

Posted by Charles on June 29, 2013 01:24

Editor Comment:

Journalism - the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.

Phuketwan is journalism. The New York Times is journalism. Readers' opinions are not journalism.

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i dont think travel insurance is the answer as it costly it would make more sense to just have every tourist pay 300 baht which would go straight to the public hospital which would help lift the stands in the hospitals for both thais and tourists a win win for every 1 as the money raised used the right way if coarce is a lot more than the hospitals are losing.if travel insurance is made law the prices of insurance will rise sharply and if that happens tourists will go to other countrys where not needed to purchase.

Posted by Anonymous on June 29, 2013 07:14

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20,000,000 tourists pay 300bant each = a much inproved hospital service which covers both thais and tourists alike. under this payment is far better than travel insurance as the hospitals not able to improve as it only get payment for treatment under this 300 baht payment to hospitals is far better for the country and everybody wins. plus the 300 baht would be easy way to collect with little cost involved

Posted by GT on June 29, 2013 07:24

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is that a glimmer of light I spy?

Posted by eezergood on June 29, 2013 07:55

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Phuketwan is journalism! 55555 that is funny. 555555

Posted by Anonymous on June 29, 2013 08:33

Editor Comment:

The joke's on you and all other lame anonymous commenters. Your views are worthless.

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The problems arising from compulsory travel insurance will cause more practical difficulties than they solve; not least defining who is a tourist at the many border checkpoints. Even if a blanket charge is added to the price of a visa the question will move on to the extent of treatment and the quality of care in a medical emergency. Will the over 60's, smokers and people with a pre-existing medical condition be excluded from entry because of the additional risk? The cost of administration and the complications and problems arising will both damage further Thailand's reputation and cost more than the current 'laissez faire' system.

Posted by thag on June 29, 2013 12:29

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I can't see how travel insurance will, for one moment, stop the scams by either the jetski or motorbike rental mobs.
The thugs will still be demanding absurd payments for minor "damage".
I tried to intervene the other day when 2 young Italian girls returned a motorbike to a renter on Beach road, Patong, with a damaged wing mirror. The thugs demanded 6,000 baht. After my intervention this was reduced to 5,000. When i repeated that this was still absurd i was threatened by a guy carrying a lump of wood, and told to go away.
A passing policeman, who i flagged down, gazed into the middle distance without the slightest interest, and eventually drove off.
The girls eventually paid the 5,000 but vowed to never return to Phuket.
Would an insurance policy pay up on this type of incident? I don't think so!

"A follow up meeting is planned for 3 or 4 months time" is just the usual Phuket fudgery. Bring in the troops, and rid the island of this pestilence!

Posted by jimbo on June 29, 2013 21:20

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"Would an insurance policy pay up on this type of incident? I don't think so!"
Sure it would, provided the policy conditions are met (normally means they have to drive legally) and a receipt is given. And no reason for the owner not to give a receipt.

Posted by stevenl on June 30, 2013 07:55

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We always have travel insurance. One year of travels of up to 60 days cost 27 Euro for a family of five. That makes 5 Euros per person. Premium package.

For single insurance it is 12 (!) Euro under 65 years. For people over 65 years it starts from 48 Euros to (over 75 years) 58 Euros.

Longterm contracts (up to 18 month) start from 1 Euro per day. Special for students, language pupils and work and travel only a little more expansive, start from 36 Euro per month. All travel without US+Canada. Motorbike and Jetski accidents included.

So please, do not start me on costs.

Posted by Lena on June 30, 2013 16:20

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Travel insurance is actually very affordable. And I have personally dealt with many tourists that are over 65 that have travel insurance,so it is in no way impossible to buy insurance for the over 65 crowd.At least not for tourists from the Nordic countries, and I don't believe the insurance companies suddenly become hugely different in the rest of Europe. It might be a bit more pricey if you are a senior, but nothing outrageous at all. However, very few, if any insurance packages covers people without a license renting a motorbike, even if you do have a valid driving license for motorbikes the insurance usually don't cover you. The same goes for mountain climbing, bungy jumping or other activites that would be classified as "risky". But there are specialist insurances for people who want to engage in dangerous things too. As for who should be called a tourist, that's very very easy. Anybody arriving and entering Thailand on the one month "Visa on arrival" is a tourist. Simple.

Posted by christian on June 30, 2013 19:11

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- Lena

Please inform us which travel insurance covers motorbike and jet ski accidents in Thailand at the rates you quoted ?

Accidents incurred in what are considered dangerous or risky activities are virtually always excluded unless you pay extra.

Other activities not included and relevant to Phuket would be diving or boating.

If your policy really covers all that at the rates you quote, please let us know what company it is because you've got the deal of the century.

We can then all check their policy conditions online and verify your statement.

Always read the fine print.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 30, 2013 22:46

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Do other countries asks for compulsary traveller's insurance? When renting a car here, which party deals with the insurance on the vehicle - the business owner or the renter? By putting the financial responsibility on insuring on jetski on the renter will only encourage the operators to file more false claims knowing they are dealing with deeper pockets. Shame on the local authorities - no huevos! Forget about calling anything "mafia" around here. Call it ridiculous.

Posted by peter rawai on July 1, 2013 07:45

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ThaiMike

The average tourist does not rent motorbikes, or even jetskis. Diving is a highly specialized hobby, on the whole very few people are divers, and those who take a course here in Thailand are insured by the dive company arranging the dive courses. Boating is included in almost every package though, at least the ones I have seen throughout my 15 years in the tourism industry. If you know you are going to engage in risky activities, then buy a specialised insurance.

Posted by christian on July 1, 2013 07:49

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peter rawai

Yes, many countries demand tourists have travel insurance in order to get a tourist visa. All Shengen countries for example, and China. Probably every rich country in the world demands it as part of the application process, otherwise the visa application will be denied.

So it's nothing exotic at all.

Posted by christian on July 1, 2013 10:04

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@ThaiMike: sure.

The fineprint: https://www.travelsecure.de/bedingungen/AVB_AR.pdf

here the part of the fineprint (not much). Interesting is point 5
"g) auf Vorsatz einschlie??lich Selbstmord und Selbstmordversuch und Sucht, wie Alkohol, Drogen etc. beruhende Krankheiten oder Unf??lle einschlie??lich deren Folgen sowie f??r Entzugs- und Entw??hnungsbehandlungen;"
g) intentionally (including suicide and attempted suicide and addiction, such as alcohol, drugs, etc. ) induced diseases or accidents, including their effects, withdrawal and addiction treatment;

If you intentionally crash the motorbike or the jet ski they are off the hook.

source: www.travelsecure.de/en

Posted by Lena on July 1, 2013 14:47

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- Christian

I beg to differ. A large portion of tourists DO rent motorbikes here, many of them rather reluctantly but feel compelled to because of the lack of reasonably priced public transport.

This is not only painfully obvious from accident reports but everyone of us can observe the large amount of tourists on motorbikes in everyday traffic around Phuket.

I have also worked for 5 different dive companies here and not one of them nor any other that I've heard of offer personal injury insurance. On the contrary, many are reluctant to sign you up if you don't have proper insurance like for example one issued by DAN.

Diving may be a specialized hobby not common among your average tourist but on Phuket it happens to be a major draw and activity tourists DO participate in and thus highly relevant in this discussion.

I have to wonder in which country you spent those 15 years working in the tourism industry because it sure doesn't sound like it was Thailand.

PS. I've been in and out of China several times and not once did anybody ask or even mention medical insurance. What on earth are you talking about ?

Posted by ThaiMike on July 1, 2013 15:36

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"I have also worked for 5 different dive companies here and not one of them nor any other that I've heard of offer personal injury insurance."
Not possible. All divecompanies here are required to have accident insurance for their guests. If not their TAT license will not be renewed. And personal injury is part of the coverage.

Posted by stevenl on July 1, 2013 16:40

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- Lena

Thank you for the link. I read through the whole policy (I speak fluent German) and it mentions Accidents without specifying anything. That's being surprisingly vague since it makes no reference to any risky or dangerous activities.

Have you actually checked with them if the policy really covers such incidents ? For example accidents with a rented motorbike or jet-ski and diving related accidents ?

I agree it appears to do so but the fact that no reference is made to risky or dangerous activities leads me to believe there probably is an extra set of conditions not included in that link.

If not, then it truly is a great policy. I used to be an ADAC Plus Member and it was surprisingly extensive in it's coverage for a very low annual fee.

However since I no longer reside in Germany, I could not avail of either one.

If there's anything I've learned about Germany then it's the fact that if something is not specifically allowed, then it's definitely forbidden, or in this case, excluded.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 1, 2013 16:46

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- stevenl

I never managed a dive shop but in my time I did see the odd accident and not once did I see or hear anything being paid out by insurance included in the trip or course taken.

The shops I worked for encouraged customers to have their own policy and just about everyone recommended DAN.

One of the shops was a DAN agent so at least in that case there might have been a financial incentive to do so but the others were not.

Perhaps there is a mandatory one like you mention but it's likely to exist just to comply with regulations on principle but not in practice.

Have you seen or heard this policy being used to cover actual accident related expenses and if so, can you elaborate on what it covers and to what extent ?

Posted by ThaiMike on July 1, 2013 16:53

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@stevenl

This 'compulsory' Tat thing, how much is that covering? 50k/pax?
Some time ago, it was the best deal for the customers, to go diving with a sponsor/member of the deco-chamber. Dive accidents covered. But I remember, most companies didn't tell their customers, they are insured. They sold them 'dive insurances' for additional x-hundred baht/day.

But wasn't this in the beginning about insurance for Jet skis? And how can it be, that it need again 90 days, to register and insure? What was that agreement, the last time. What are the stickers on the Jet Ski tellin'?
Or is it this time a 100% cover, police report needed and insurance will pay? With no 'extra' costs for the renter? I'm thinking long time, that there was never a insurance claim, from the Jet Ski Boys. As they never 'aloud', to bring police in, or call the insurance agent, how .....!

Posted by SM on July 1, 2013 17:26

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It's already a good point that they all agree there is a problem and try to solve it. before airport tax was paid when you leave, now no more trouble it's included in the airticket. did airport get it? No one care (as tourist). They can do same with Insurance and will be same... (Even price should be lower) but then after will be same as airport tax. BUT peace of mind for the tourist... And that is a good point, just give policy insurance number and they manage. Will have some who will abuse it... But Tourist not in trouble for something he did not do!

Posted by Stef on July 1, 2013 19:52

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Accidents are covered. Whatever ur xperience. It says accidents are covered then it is covered. Do know about diving chambers though.

Posted by Lena on July 1, 2013 21:58

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ThaiMike

I was at the Chinese embassy just 2 weeks ago and on the application form they ask you to write down your insurance company and policy number. So, maybe they are lax when it comes to really checking wether applicants have it or not. Anyway, if you want to go to Shengen you for sure MUST have an insurance paid for and you need to attach that receipt to your application. And yes, I've been working in the tourism industry here in Thailand for 15 years, and I have handled numerous insurance cases, and yes dive shops need insurance to operate. What are YOU talking about?

Posted by christian on July 1, 2013 22:17

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ThaiMike

Here is a list of the documents you need to apply for a chinese tourist visa, you can visit the chinese embassy website to double check if you feel the need:

Documents required:

Valid Passport (valid at least 6 months after the return date and 2 consecutive blank pages)
Visa Application Form properly completed and signed, with an ID photo
Photocopies of roundtrip airline tickets
Photocopies of hotel reservations during your stay or certificate of accommodation in China
International Insurance Certificate (care / repatriation, valid during the stay in China)
Certificate of employment/proof of income (statement of last 3 months) or certificate of education (for students over 18 )
For those who visit a family member in China, provide a letter of invitation from parents, an attestation of family relationships (family book, marriage certificate...) and identification (residence permit for Foreigners in China, Chinese ID card for Chinese ...)
For those who visit friends in China, provide a letter of invitation from a friend in China by joining identification (residence permit for Foreigners in China, Chinese ID card for the Chinese. ..)

Maybe you haven't been visiting China lately, the application process has gotten really strict in the last few months.

Posted by christian on July 1, 2013 22:23

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- Lena

So you are saying you have not checked with them if those cases I mentioned are included ?

No problem, I'll send them an email and see what they say.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 1, 2013 22:28

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- Christian

Last time I was in China was 2 years ago. Crossing from Hong Kong by train to Guangzhou. Got my visa at the train station crossing over to Zhuhai, took 15min and not a word about any insurances.

I'm a EU citizen. Perhaps the procedure has changed since then but when I did that for a couple of times long time ago (2004 I think), I contacted the Chinese embassy in my country and asked if I could get the same kind of visa on arrival at Peking or Shanghai airport and they said it's impossible to get such a visa anywhere on the border.

When I told him that can't be true because I have 2 of such visas in my passport from Zhuhai and Gongbei and even offered to give him the visa numbers, they hung up.

Embassies and consulates get to keep anywhere from 30% to 100% of the visa fees and some are not interested in giving you any advice about how to obtain a visa elsewhere.

I never disputed the Schengen requirements, just your peculiar claim of most tourists on Phuket not renting motorbikes or diving being a fringe activity here. That made me wonder if you even live here, let alone work in the tourist industry. I'm not one bit more convinced.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 1, 2013 22:45

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My homeinsurance covers 45 days of travel. Since I usually stay longer I buy extra insurance - nproblem although I am past 65.
The insurance covers all accidents. If I am the cause of, say a motorbike accident, I might have to refund the insurance company when I get home, but they will always pay my cost to a thai hospital.
I think most europeans have a similar insurance - only common sense. So how am I going to prove at immigration that I am really insured? Can they read my documents even if they are to some extent in english?
No, this whole insurance thing is a new scam where we are going to have to pay regardless if we are insured. Otherwise no entry.

Posted by Remarkable on July 2, 2013 02:39

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"This 'compulsory' Tat thing, how much is that covering? 50k/pax?"
Minimum 10 times your expectations, 500 K personal injury, 1 mio death. That is for the minimum required insurance for scuba operators. All scubashops on the island will at least have this, some more.

Posted by stevenl on July 2, 2013 09:50


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