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Jet-skis at Phuket's Surin beach this week, where they are banned

Phuket Jet-Skis: Push Them Out

Saturday, November 26, 2011
Phuket News Analysis

PHUKET: One indication that action to protect Phuket's future now rests in the hands of Bangkok decision-makers came this week when the issue of jet-skis was raised at the three-monthly meeting of honorary consuls with Phuket community leaders.

Phuripat Theerakulpisut, Chief of Phuket's Marine Office 5, put forward a plan for controlling Phuket's jet-skis at Thursday's meeting, and complete, unexpected silence followed.

At any of the previous meetings, honorary consuls would have been quick to question the plan. Essentially, Khun Phuripat admits that the number of illegal jet-skis on Phuket has risen to 70 (it was 27 two years ago), which means there are now 289 jet-skis on Phuket.

Khun Phuripat's efforts to stem the increase have failed. Earlier in the week, Phuketwan photographed jet-skis operating at Surin, a beach that is not supposed to have any jet-skis.

Khun Phuripat, who has a difficult-to-find office on Phuket's east coast, near the deep sea port, told the meeting he had never had a single complaint about jet-skis.

Yet Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad told the gathering that police had been called in to mediate 40 cases involving jet-ski disputes on the west coast this year. Patong is the heartland of scams and jet-ski abuses.

Khun Phuripat's plan for zoning has virtually no hope of working. The reason? Compromises of the kind that he proposes yet again are the reason that Phuket has a jet-ski scam problem, thousands of tuk-tuks and taxis charging excessive fares, and pathetic public transport.

As with every tourism rip-off and scam on Phuket, when it comes to jet-skis, authorities have always had the choice: compromise, or enforce existing laws.

Without fail, compromise has been the choice, every time. Yet as everyone knows, compromise down the years has simply allowed the jet-ski operators of Patong to do as they please.

Nothing will really change under Khun Phuripat's zoning proposal.

A better idea comes from David Field, the lifesaving expert who comes to Phuket each year to train locals. Mr Field, who has spent far more time on Patong beach than Khun Phuripat, is now training lifeguards on the Philippines island of Boracay - one of Phuket's regional rival destinations.

''To hire a jet-ski on Boracay, you accept the touts offer and you are taken offshore by boat to a large pontoon. Then they ride in a designated area away from shore, away from divers and swimmers. No rip-off scams operate here.

''It's the same with parasailing. Guests are taken offshore two-to-three kilometres by speedboat and they take turns floating around, then return to shore.

''They look beautiful floating around way out to sea. Banana Boats are very popular and well operated and controlled.

There is no smoking on the beach - 500 pesos is the fine and it is enforced,with no dogs, no drinking on the beach. No touts are allowed on the beach. They get you instead on the footpath beyond.''

Phuketwan believes a Boracay approach to jet-skis, and to law enforcement, and to keeping beaches clear of illegal businesses, is precisely what Phuket needs.

We urge the decision-makers in Bangkok and the envoys who are offering them suggestions for saving Phuket for future generations to look closely at the Boracay concept.

Weeding out the good jet-ski operators from the scammers is another good idea. We suggest Khun Phuripat moves his office from Phuket's deep sea port to Patong and begins this process straight away.

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How does Puriphat know there are now 70 illegal jet-skis? If he admits to knowing about them then why hasn't he enforced the law? It isn't hard Puriphat. Get a phalanx of Police to raid just ONE beach. Publicly crush the first 5 illegal jet skis you find. The rest will soon disappear...........Admittedly though, some people would lose their kick backs, but hey, isn't serving the public actually your primary concern? You could perhaps raise money by selling raffle tickets, allowing the winner to press the button on the crushing machine. I'd buy one ! Roll up roll up !

Posted by Mr Man on November 26, 2011 11:09

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Seems authorities are either afraid of the scam operators, or benefiting from them. Which is worse? I can understand why the Marine Dept has received no complaints, usually when one is ripped off, a complaint to police is seen to be enough. Consulates should inform their citizens to make it in writing to every agency from Bangkok on down. However, I have no fantasies about Thai authorities doing anything about it- simply lip service until the Chinese and Indian tourists begin arriving en masse and the pesky, ever complaining westerners kiss off to other destinations.

Posted by Media Watcher on November 26, 2011 11:49

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Compromise is when neither party gets what it wants.
The word used for the authorities bargaining position should be "caving in".

Posted by Sir Burr on November 26, 2011 12:05

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Jetski rental is only ''legal' at 5 beaches, but ;QUOTE.... Anyone operating a Jet Ski in Phuket is required by law to hold documents indicating they are "Second Class Helmsmen of Power Driven Sea-going Vessels."
Easy..enforce the written law and by sheer lack of patrons with the required license..they will all go broke and go away!! Easy huh? ooooppppss, that means someone actually has to enforce the law...silly me..hahaha

Posted by davidj949 on November 26, 2011 13:07

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everybody know who are the illegals and who are the scammers so, Why they are not sued, why we speak about compromise when few of them should be in jail.
compromise in that case is only encouraging abuses and illegal operators.

Posted by Anonymous on November 26, 2011 13:37

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Enforcement of any kind is big joke in Phuket.It seems the locals really don't care if tourists get ripped off besides like Mr. Man said there are lots of kick backs. I remember a few months a go the Patong Police were involved with some of the jet ski rip offs. The tourist getting ripped off felt the police were working with the jet ski operators.
I do hope Phuket follows Borocay's example or even better Krabi's example and have no jet skis.

Posted by Billy on November 26, 2011 14:30

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The way the jet-skis dominate so many beaches here is a travesty, but I would bet my life (without a moments worry) that no law controlling them will ever be enforced. There is too much cash going to all the right people for anything to change.

Posted by Day on November 26, 2011 15:02

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They are not going to get rid of the JETSKIS,There are to many jobs and to much money at stake.
i think the idea of what they have done in BORACAY IS PROBABLY THE RIGHT WAY TO TOWARDS SOLVING THIS EVERLASTING PROBLEM...I think Mr Field would be the right man to help acheive this..

Posted by johndev on November 26, 2011 16:29

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The Boracay suggestion is logical, but is a pie in the sky fantasy. The laws already exist in Phuket to put a stop to the abuse and the corruption. All it takes is the resolve to stop it. The fact of the matter is that until concrete consistent action is taken, tourists will have every reason to perceive the local authorities as unconcerned about the well being of the tourists. The time to have acted has long past. It's all about salvage of reputation now.

Posted by brendan on November 27, 2011 01:05

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A "phalanx of Police"? I believe that's not the correct collective term for a group of policemen in Phuket. Isn't the right term "a bribery of police"? "Phalanx" is actually the collective term for a group of non-Thais. You know, "a phalanx of falangs"???

Posted by Phalanx on November 27, 2011 03:20

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They do that offshore thing with the para sailing in Pattaya don't they ? its a good idea, a jet-ski went over the top of my friend's head while he swam at Lam Sing beach in Phuket ! i just got back on tuesday from two weeks in Phuket, nothing has changed in the seven years I have been going .

Posted by phill on November 27, 2011 07:08

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Before the touris t- and immigration - volunteers did good work by helping the victims in these cases, but they are not allowed to do that anymore.

Posted by Sherlock on November 27, 2011 19:10

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They will be out of business only when nobody or not enough people will rent their machines, it's the only way to get Phuket rid of those parasites. Absolutely every tourists should know about before coming to Thailand.

Posted by Jean_paul Patrick on November 27, 2011 20:26

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Philippines ? hmm maybe worth my next holiday...

Posted by anonymous on December 5, 2011 14:49


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