''The problem cannot be solved in any other way,'' said tour company representative Trakul Jullanon. ''It's time to call in the Army,'' he told Vice Governor Dr Sommai Preechasin at Provincial Hall in Phuket City.
About 50 representatives from resorts and tour companies gathered in the first assembly of the Phuket governor's ''tourism rip-offs'' committee for the year. The committee was established last year in consultation with the Interior Ministry.
A representative from the Bangkok Hospital Phuket, Pareeya Julapong, said that there were times when the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers prevented patients from getting to and from hospital.
A representative from the international Club Med brand, Wijid Dasandhat, said that even the son of a former Prime Minster of France was recently prevented from being picked up by friends in a private car - until the blockading taxi drivers were given 800 baht to allow it to happen.
Club Med has a recently-renovated resort on Phuket at Kata beach. ''It's remarkable,'' Khun Wijid said. ''These people can do whatever they want.''
Australian honorary consul Larry Cunningham, who also runs the Chava Resort at Surin, said that the Australian Government had already issued a travel alert about the scams of jet-ski operators.
A similar warning about Phuket's taxis and tuk-tuks was now being considered, he said.
''Like virtually every other resort on Phuket, the Chava in Surin is held to ransom by the local taxi drivers,'' he said. ''The streets of Surin [a beach north of Patong and Kamala] are not controlled by the local council. They are not controlled by the police.
''The streets of Surin are controlled by the local taxi drivers. The drivers have so much power . . . they even have more power than the jet-ski scammers.''
Mr Cunningham said that Australia's Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, former Ambassador to Thailand Bill Paterson, who was appointed in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, had visited Phuket last week.
''He noted changes since he was last here, specifically the abusive manner of the taxi drivers.
''We cannot have our guests picked up to go on tours, to go on elephant treks or other activities, because the tour company drivers are too scared of the local taxi drivers.
''These people wear no shirts at the local 'taxi' stand, they set fire to their rubbish, and when they want to wash their hands, they simply stroll into the resort and use the resort tap.''
Mr Cunningham said he had taken the precaution of notifying the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that national consulates needed to be protected, and the Australian consulate was at the Chava.
''It would be a simple matter for the taxi drivers to blockade the resort,'' he said, ''as they have done many times at other resorts.''
He said that anyone who knew Surin and Bang Tao would know how close the two beaches were to each other, yet the local 'taxis' ''charge a minimum of 400 baht for the journey.''
''In the 12 years I have been here, I have seen the power of these people [illegal taxi drivers] rise,'' Mr Cunningham said. ''They now believe they are unstoppable. They hold the whole of Phuket to ransom.''
Khun Pareeya from Bangkok Phuket Hospital told the meeting that resorts where the hospital had had problems using ''partner'' vehicles to pick up patients included Avista, Ramada, Merlin Beach (Tritrang), Cape Sienna, Novotel Patong, Twinpalms, Club Med and Front Village Karon.
The Vice President of the Phuket Tourism Association, Bhuritt Maswongsa, said there were now so many complaints about tuk-tuks and 'taxis' that the Government of Thailand had to take them seriously because they were damaging honest businesses and Phuket's international reputation.
''We just can't have these people scaring the tourists off Phuket,'' he said.
Deputy Phuket Police Commander Colonel Pirayut Karajadi said the new Phuket Police Commander, Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun, had already met with the superintendents of Phuket's eight police stations about the issue.
There were at least 69 ''taxi'' stands on Phuket with illegal taxis and hundreds if not thousands of illegal cabs, he said.