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The governor and Europe's ambassadors greet the Phuket media this evening

International Meetings Win Governor's Backing

Friday, June 14, 2013
PHUKET: A historic meeting between 18 European Union ambassadors and Phuket's Governor today is likely to see a concerted Thai and international effort made to address Phuket's growth and safety issues.

Abuses by authorities, jet-ski scams, the formidable excesses of Phuket's tuk-tuks and taxi drivers and safety at sea were among the issues talked about in private today.

After an intense seminar, Governor Maitree Intrusud joined a media conference and fielded questions with EU Ambassador David Lipman and other ambassadors.

Briefings about Phuket's chronic ailments are understood to have been delivered one after another by well-informed Phuket honorary consuls during the afternoon session.

Then the governor joined the ambassadors at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa.

Ambassador Lipman said the extended talks that ran over the scheduled time centred on ''certain difficulties'' that Europeans and other tourists who come to Phuket are encountering.

''We have discussed the way that we would try to find solutions to some of the problems,'' he told the media conference.

The governor again said that Phuket is taking a gradual approach to solving Phuket's problems. A Q&A session followed.

Alasdair Forbes, Phuket News: ''It was mentioned just now, marine safety, boat safety. Can somebody give me a more in-depth idea of what was discussed and what solutions were proposed for marine safety.''

Ambassador Michelangelo Pipan, Italy: ''I can tell you what I asked the governor. I asked if and what would be done in terms of putting the right flag out. If you have red flags out they tend to be disregarded, and if there was personnel on the beaches to look after that. The governor was aware of this issue. He is working together with the relevant agencies to give out all the necessary warnings to the tourists but he also noted that it is the case that often the tourists come and maybe they already paid for the trip, and that they want to go out. In this case he is working together with all the maritime authorities, including the Marine Police in order to monitor these trips.''

Alan Morison, Phuketwan ''I was wondering what will happen next, whether there's some process that will follow the meeting today, and the second part of my question is, the Chinese ambassador spoke at length a few weeks ago about some of Phuket's problems and suggested a regular meeting involving ambassadors and officials. Is that a good idea or not?''

EU Ambassador David Lipman: ''There will be several types of follow up. First of all, with the Governor of Phuket we agreed that we would start again regular meetings with the honorary consuls. This is something that hasn't taken place for about six months or so. That's going to start up. We as EU and with other like-minded countries as well will be having meetings very shortly I think around June 28 with the Minister for Tourism in Bangkok. We certainly share some concerns as well as the Chinese Ambassador and there are many other countries apart from the EU countries that have the same concerns and we certainly hope that we can all work together to solve the problems.''

Chris Husted, Phuket Gazette: ''Today in our paper we carry a story about beach water quality. Ministers will be familiar with the Blue Flag project throughout Europe. I understand that Spain, a very popular beach destination in Europe, has 490 beaches that are accountable for beach water quality, encroachment, all aspects that make a beach pleasant. Is this something that you would urge Thailand, mainly Phuket and the Andaman area, to pursue?''

Deputy Head of Mission, Antonio Casado Rigalt, Spain: ''This is something we do in Spain on a permanent basis every year. It's a way of attracting people, proof that the beach is quality standard. We measure the quality of the water, the facilities along the beach, and the quality of the sand. I think that it's a good idea not only for Europe and Spain but for Thailand to also have this kind of project to show that your beaches have good quality.''

Chaiwoot Pongsuwan, Radio Thailand: ''Passports have been taken and held by police when tourists are involved in arrests. What is the process? The tourists can't do anything without their passports. This has happened to people from several countries. Do ambassadors have concerns about that?''

Ambassador Mikael Hermniti Winther, Denmark: ''Our concern in general not just for Phuket is to provide consular assistance once we have been informed by the authorities that we have a national being held. Then we can assist with a lawyer, with their families.''

Governor Maitree invited tourists to contact the governor's office directly with complaints. [The Governor's Office can be contacted at 076 211001.]

Attending the two-day seminar are: Mr M. Michielsen, Ambassador of Belgium; Mr Vitezslav Grepl, Ambassador Czech Republic; Mr Mikael Hemniti Winther, Ambassador of Denmark Ms Sirpa Maenpaa, Ambassador of Finland; Mr Thierry Viteau, Ambassador of France; Dr Ingo Winkelmann, Charge d'affaires a.i., Embassy of Germany; Mr Denes Tomaj, Ambassador of Hungary; Mr Michelangelo Pipan, Ambassador of Italy; Mr Marc Thill, Ambassador of Luxembourg; Mr Henk Cor van der Kwast, Deputy Head of Mission, The Royal Netherlands Embassy; Dr Jerzy Bayer, Ambassador of Poland; Mr Luis Barreira de Sousa, Ambassador of Portugal; Mr Gruia Jacota, Ambassador of Romania; Dr Vladimir Halgas, Ambassador of Slovak Republic; Ms Maria Adanja, Ambassador of Slovenia; Antonio Casado Rigalt, Deputy Head of Mission Spain; Mr Mark Kent, British Ambassador; Mr David Lipman, EU Ambassador.

Earlier this week at a crisis summit on Phuket's beaches, which are being subjected to a commercial invasion and degradation, Tourism Minister Somsak Pureesrisak said that taxi and tuk-tuks remained Phuket's biggest problem.

He listed 13 issues for Phuket as follows:

1. Increasing arrivals, poor infrastructure

2. Traffic

3. No controlling strategy, development occurring all over

4. Environmental degradation

5. Attacks on beaches and public land

6. Garbage mounting

7. Bad water

8. Tourists' and residents' safety and security

9. Rip-offs (timeshare touts etc.)

10. Tour guides

11. Authorities at odds with private sector

12. Taxis and jet-skis

13. Zero baht tours

More reports about the breakthrough meeting will be posted soon on Phuketwan.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"Governor Maitree invited tourists to contact the governor's office directly with complaints."

can PW publish the Govenor's contact details?? then we can report back to PW with any progress we might have. Cheers

Tom

Posted by Tom on June 14, 2013 21:10

Editor Comment:

The Governor lives in the Governor's Mansion in Phuket City and there's a post box outside it for letters. He works at Provincial Hall in Phuket City and, having said he would like to hear from tourists with complaints, I am sure he will quickly make arrangements to deal with them. Best copy any correspondence to your embassy, in case letters or emails go astray or are mislaid.

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Dear Editor,
Are you able to publish the address of the Governor's Mansion in Phuket and the address of the Provincial Hall to enable people to send letters to him using the postal system ?

Paul

Posted by Paul on June 15, 2013 07:48

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With all this 'noise' and actual ambassadors visitig/making comments known this has GOT TO BE a good thing for Phuket and its residents

Posted by eezergood on June 15, 2013 08:09

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I find it strange that Tourist Safety and Security is #8. Time share tout rip offs are #9....Thai rip offs are #12. I hope these are listed in random and not prioritized.

Posted by Ryn on June 15, 2013 10:28

Editor Comment:

As the article says, he rates taxis and tuk-tuks as the Number One problem. Yet it's one of 13.

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Just came back from vacation. At the airport I passed all the annoying taxi guys who I don't know how get into areas they are not allowed to, not to mention all the annoying guys with fixed prices outside. I went straight to shiny "metered taxi" and when I told them I want to BIG C at Central the answer comes right away: THB 500,-.

When I said I want to go by meter and as for usual it's only around THB 300,- (I am here almost 2 years now) the answer: New regulation by government and he is holding up the price list with fixed prices.

It's so frustrating. Taxi and TukTuk are more out of control then ever.

Posted by Jakub on June 15, 2013 12:26

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Not one of the reporter's questions was actually answered.

Posted by MediaWatcher on June 16, 2013 22:57


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