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The tuk-tuk isn't always as charming as this Kalim snapshot suggests

Rip-Off Tuk-Tuk Extras 'Killing Phuket Tourism'

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
PHUKET: Commissions being demanded more and more by Phuket's taxi and tuk-tuk drivers will eventually kill Phuket tourism, a meeting heard yesterday.

Parat Jantharasorin, a consultant to several Russian firms, said that tourists were waking up to the rip-offs on Phuket and would soon choose other destinations.

''The commission system is destroying the tour system on Phuket,'' he told a special meeting about tourism issues at Karon Council offices.

''For example, a taxi or tuk-tuk taking tourists to a latex outlet selling pillows will charge 50 percent commission.

''When it comes to elephant trekking, a 500 baht trip is onsold with commission to the tourist for 1000 baht or 1500 baht.

''The tour people are happy, the tuk-tuk driver is happy. But there's little consideration of the tourist, who pays double or more.

''You know, this can't work in the end. The tourists have a choice, There is Burma, which is opening up. There is Laos, and Cambodia is already becoming popular.

''The tourists will run from this place. You have a short life.''

Commission-taking and rip-offs begin on the tourist's arrival at Phuket International Airport, with many fresh arrivals being taken against their will to offices where they are pressured into buying accommodation or tours they don't need - at inflated prices.

While the so-called ''kidnap commissions'' were not mentioned at yesterday's meeting, they add weight to Khun Parat's warning that commissions will kill Phuket tourism.

He told the Karon meeting yesterday that new-money Russian tourists at first overwhelmed Turkey until a government-to-government agreement made the trade fairer and Russian firms paid taxes to Turkey.

''The low-quality Russians moved on from Turkey to Pattaya and Phuket,'' he said.

Unlike the Chinese and the Koreans, most Russians who came to Phuket paid only for fares and accommodation, not tours.

This was why the counter tour operations had become a battleground, with taxis and tuk-tuks becoming alternate tour operators to make more money.

''If you ask a tuk-tuk or a taxi driver whether taxi and tuk-tuk tours are legal, they will say 'Yes,''' he said.

About 5000 Russians were living and working on Phuket, he said. Even Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, had been to visit Phuket twice, he said.

Khun Parat said he had been working with respectable Russian firms for four months. There were big ''mafia'' in the Russian system but they were low-key and difficult to identify.

If the Russians were forced out of Phuket, they would be replaced by Israelis or Australians or the British, he said.

''Now we have lots of people who are independent travellers,'' he said. ''They can check the prices for themselves on Phuket and make their choices.''

The meeting was chaired by Phuket Vic Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada with representatives of about 25 Karon businesses attending.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I spent a couple of days in myanma & ranong r last week...... The people & their attitudes are very different.....
Coming back to phuket was absolutely depressing....... I would say this place is finnished.

Posted by widdl ee dee on June 4, 2013 11:08

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The last two nights I went out to different places and both the owners said they have never seen it as quiet as this. There are many tropical beaches in the world.

Posted by Lost In Translation on June 4, 2013 11:50

Editor Comment:

Which only goes to prove that you go to quiet places.

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Tours and hotel rooms in Phuket is not sold because of their value for money, but are sold because of the best commission by the tour operators at the moment and that unfair competition is killing the tourism industry in Phuket and Thailand at large.

The main problem of commission to touts is because any Thai person with a Thai ID Card is able to register with TAT Registration Office and sell tours and hotel bookings.

So many Thais in Phuket are able to set up tour-counters in front their shops, homes and even directly by TukTuk and local taxi drivers.
They are selling tours with up to 60% commission which is more money for those touts than the amount of money to pay those sightseeing tour operators such as diving operators, tour-boat operators, tour-ferry boat operators, sea-kayak operators, land-tour operators, elephant trekking operators, hotels, restaurants and so on???.

To reduce the proliferation of tour-counters staffed by unprofessional employees, an official diploma in Tourism should be compulsory in order to be registered with TAT Registration Office and that person will be responsible before the law in case of bankrupcy or criminal case sent to court by cheated customers.

Hospitals, Doctors & Pharmacy offices, Lawyers offices, Accounting office, Architect office must have a legal Thai person with recognized diploma in Thailand in the specific field to the business to be register with the Thai autorities.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 4, 2013 11:53

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"Khun Parat said he had been working with respectable Russian firms for four months. There were big ''mafia'' in the Russian system but they were low-key and difficult to identify."

How is it right to refer to 'respectable Russian firms' as 'Mafia' but not accept that cartels in Thailand are 'Mafia'?

Posted by Mister Ree on June 4, 2013 12:20

Editor Comment:

Because he used the word. We report accurately what people say, we don't correct what they say. That's journalism.

There is no cartel. It's a monopoly.

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Myanmar is a very attractive country with very attractive people ... BUT there is an extreme shortage of hotel accommodation & I cannot afford to go back to see my old friends & colleagues because hotel prices have more than quadrupled. In Yangon they also have dual pricing (as in Vietnam) so Phuket is not unique in that.

Posted by Logic on June 4, 2013 12:30

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All these commission based sales have been going on for the last 16 years that i've been here.
After the Asian crisis when the Baht crashed it didn't seem to matter what prices were charged, tourists were very happy as everything seemed so cheap to them.

We have all fed this monster.

Now that the Baht has gone back to a normal level things no longer seem cheap.
It seems to me that the Thai's have got used to it and have set their life styles accordingly.Hence anger and desperate measures now it's not as easy to rip tourists off.
There are serious financial problems going on around the world and the locals will have to understand, the gravy train has come to a stop.Everyone is watching where their money is going and looking for value.

Posted by G Horne on June 4, 2013 15:23

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Editor Comment:

Because he used the word. We report accurately what people say, we don't correct what they say. That's journalism.

Except when the folk make comments here, then you absolutely always DO correct what they say.Thats NOT jounalism..thats bias.

Posted by mal on June 4, 2013 15:27

Editor Comment:

There's a difference between journalism and comment. As journalists, we are obliged to report what people say accurately, without adjustment. That's in the real world.

In the unreal world of comments about the real world, we're free to correct readers' mistakes and false statements. That's common sense.

We don't distort the news . . . and we won't allow readers the same luxury of those in the real world.

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If the taxi men wont act with fairness , its time for the Hotels to unite and offer packages that offer Room and Free Transfers across the board in Phuket.

Posted by Mai Chob on June 4, 2013 20:21

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They could lower the Iron Curtain once again,no promblem!

Posted by Tor on June 4, 2013 20:22

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The commission to Tuk Tuks and Taxis is just a normal follower of the main commission system here on Phuket. It works like this: Russian touragencys spend "Free" Sightseeing tours to their customers. This tours will lead them as well to latex shops, gem shops, pearl shops aso. There the travel agency gets 60% commission from all sold goods and this black and cash. Where are the tax collectors who close their eyes by this multi billion Baht roulette. Not one, but 10 basic Patong tunnels could have been built only from the missing tax money in this game, which is in Patthaya even bigger as on Phuket. For example, a latex mat 100 x 200 x 5 cm the factory sells to a latex shop for 5.000 Baht. The customer price is then 30.000 Baht, when 18.000 baht is commission for the travel agency and "just" 7.000 Baht for the latex shop who have to pay for room, sales staff, packing material and and and. There is no more space for tax, especially from the 18.000 Baht for the travel agency. Guess why you will find no latex shop, who will give you a tax-refund receipt for your buys? This is the real crime and all of the officials look in another way. The Tuk Tuk and Taxidrivers are just small followers in this tremendous corrupt game.

Posted by happychris on June 4, 2013 20:40

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Burma Cambodia is in!

Posted by david roberts on June 4, 2013 20:57

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been happening for years was actually started by a farang company used to work for a kayaking company and hurts when agents make more money than the company, problems it leads to low costs(quality) trips as more money is needed for commision.

Posted by Michael on June 5, 2013 00:14

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I really dont think that anybody can kill the touristes out of phuket, touristes are increasing every year a bit too much.
Of course we must do something about those evil
People. It is surely very important.
Einstein said that it is not the evil who is dangerous, it is the people who do nothing about It.

Posted by David Rej on June 5, 2013 01:56

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just back from a holiday in patong and i can only say that the prices are up and i feel that phuket is out pricing itself and this is the reason why it is so quiet, i have been to phuket many times but i am now looking at other options, phuket i fear is finished without some action from the governing bodies to stop tourists been ripped off.

Posted by c brook on June 5, 2013 03:18

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"just back from a holiday in patong and i can only say that the prices are up and i feel that phuket is out pricing itself and this is the reason why it is so quiet...

Editor Comment:
Which only goes to prove that you go to quiet places.

umm err, like Patong?

Posted by Chris on June 5, 2013 05:59

Editor Comment:

Why the out of context distortion, Chris? The comment and the response was actually as follows:

The last two nights I went out to different places and both the owners said they have never seen it as quiet as this. There are many tropical beaches in the world.
Posted by Lost In Translation
Editor Comment: Which only goes to prove that you go to quiet places.

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Mr.David Rej , for your kind information there is no more quality tourist left or coming to Phuket if you looking only quantity not quality it mean the place getting worst and worst last 3 years most of the businesses in lost , So already work had done by locals.

Posted by Rim on June 5, 2013 06:51

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@mal--Well posted, mal! To comment newspaper articles and their author, is
doing journalism in contradictory: it's the the right of commenters. PW Ed is free to adjust, manipulate and hide all comments that show a different opinion and contrary to his. That is " doing journalism ", from his side!

Posted by George on June 5, 2013 09:14

Editor Comment:

I don't have any objection to viewpoints of all kinds, George, as long as the viewpoints are factually correct and haven't sprung from deranged minds. We don't want opinions - we want additional information. We don't want smarties and showoffs, we don't want the obsessed, we don't want doomsayers who know nothing and say even less . . . anonymous commenters have no rights in the unreal digital world. All you have to do is to be able to tell the difference between real and unreal, and add value.
Get it?

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Ed"I don't have any objection to viewpoints of all kinds, George, as long as the viewpoints are factually correct and haven't sprung from deranged minds. "
You are indeed ''contradictory''..What qualifications do you have to make the call if someone has ''deranged mindset'?
Surely some folks viewpoint is just that..Their POV, and you really have no right to, just because you don't like a particular post,simply decide not to post it at all.Do you really believe that your actions do as you want others to do;that is, ''add value''?You must practice as you preach sir!

Posted by mal on June 5, 2013 10:35

Editor Comment:

Ah, but I decide whether my comments add value or not. If they don't add value, I don't add them. So I apply the same rule to me as I apply to everyone else. Fair is fair.

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Editor: "We don't want opinions ..."
Um, it's called the comment section, get it? So it seems that what really want is to argue with your readers. I guess you can't help yourself.

Posted by Matt on June 5, 2013 16:58

Editor Comment:

We've explained time and time again that the comments are only open because we want people to add value. That can come in many forms. Additional information or relating personal experiences are two novel ideas for you. Opinions of people with no name or one name or a false name have no value, matt. You're kidding yourself if you think they do. You might as well go play a computer game.

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OK here is my personal experience: You make a fool of yourself by trolling your own readers. I guess you can't help it.

Posted by matt edwards on June 5, 2013 17:20

Editor Comment:

No, some readers make fools of themselves by continuing an argument they can't win.

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The reason why no reader can win an argument with the Ed is because he will never concede having been wrong and if the comments hit too close to the target, he simply does not publish them.
Please prove me wrong and post a link to a comment where you admitted having lost an argument and being wrong.

Posted by Chris on June 5, 2013 20:07

Editor Comment:

Why would I argue the case in any debate if i knew my point wasn't accurate? That's what we do, research what's accurate and what's not accurate. If you want your journalism wrong occasionally, you've come to the wrong site.

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Like I said, he can't help it...

Posted by matt on June 5, 2013 20:48

Editor Comment:

How odd, matt, that you would address your comment to me and yet not expect a response. Add something of value, please.

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Please correct me if I misunderstood your response but to me it reads very much like you just said whatever you write or report here is never wrong ?

Posted by Chris on June 5, 2013 21:00

Editor Comment:

Your (mis)interpretation. To have someone arguing that something I've said has to be wrong is like arguing that because so many people argue here, they must be right.

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I really don't know if you consider yourself a professional journalist,but your recent comments would be deemed as far from professional by most folk i would think.
What on earth are you trying to prove to all the readers of this site?
You are making a mockery of all you say you stand for...You should be very ashamed and embarressed by your comments.They are way out of line at best,delusional at worst.God bless.

Posted by mal on June 5, 2013 21:41

Editor Comment:

All three comments you've made have been attacks on my freedom to respond to the factual errors and false logic of commenters, or to shallow criticism such as this. How odd it is that you expect journalists, of all people, to remain silent when confronted with conceit and self-opinion. We have no time for whatever it is you think we stand for, so meekly and so obliging. May your faith save you from self-deceit.

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Sounds like you confuse arguing with a constructive debate. Being wrong is human. The inability to admit it indicates an immature and inflated ego. As long as one party of the debate is in a position to alter or dismiss other comments at will, the whole conversation will never be of much value. It would be a sobering experience for you to be in a situation with your readers where your opinion carries no more weight than anyone else's. I've said my piece and continue reading PW. Thank you for the reporting.

Posted by Chris on June 5, 2013 22:23

Editor Comment:

We are not confused. You are. Our responses are based on dealing with aspects of Phuket that commenters seldom see and in talking to people with whom the commenters never speak. We welcome, as I keep repeating, value-added comments based on experience, and fresh information. This is not a forum for debate, as you wrongly seem to think, and we are not interested in opinions unless they are supported by logic and real-world information. To put it simply, we don't need or want the ''If you ask me . . .'' brigade. We are not asking. There are plenty of other forums for opinions. Please give us information instead.

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All three comments you've made have been attacks on my freedom to respond to the factual errors and false logic of commenters, or to shallow criticism such as this. How odd it is that you expect journalists, of all people, to remain silent when confronted with conceit and self-opinion. We have no time for whatever it is you think we stand for, so meekly and so obliging. May your faith save you from self-deceit.

Sir, i have in no way ''attacked your freedom'' I like many others who read this news are confused by your actions and have simply asked why you continue to make a fool of yourself.
Constant denial will get you nowhere...look at all the Ed comments...its all there for all folk to see., but you just keep on blaming other commenters and passing the buck for your own unwarrented actions.For crying out loud man, take a look at your shameful ramblings.Stop and desist.Again, not an attack, i'm just pointing out that what you ask of others viz..''All you have to do is to be able to tell the difference between real and unreal, and add value"

Do you really honestly believe that you , yourself are doing as you ask others to do?

Posted by mal on June 5, 2013 23:15

Editor Comment:

I have no need to respond, mal. Nothing you've said deserves one. But having never added value . . . I won't post you again unless you do.

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Thanks ED for at least trying to educate me into thinking more, before I write. Yeah, I know, sometimes it is not working...

When I compare your comment section with other not moderated sections of the free press, I can see, that you have to do a lot of work, to keep it interested and not a place occupied by depressing peoples depressing babbels, where I have to walk through tons of garbage to find a nugget of comment. Not so here. Here the comment section including the heated debates about educating the editor (555) is at least every time entertaining and else worth to read.

Posted by Lena on June 6, 2013 13:03

Editor Comment:

You should see the unpublished comments. Perhaps they would sell in book form?

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The editor is typical of Australian
media. A self-righteous, sanctimonious, over-inflated, left leaning windbag, who obviously thinks his opinions are somehow better or more informed than us plebs who have lived here for decades. His constant sniping at his own readers reveals his intellectual snobbery and also his own stupidity. Who is going to spend money advertising on a site run by a two bob dictator like this? I suggest the editor take his medication, unplug his keyboard and go for a lie down so we can have a spell from his rantings.

Posted by Tommy on June 6, 2013 15:44

Editor Comment:

Here's Tommy, who believes that the longer you stay on Phuket the more qualified you are to know what's going on - which means, of course, that he's a cheerleader for the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, who have been here even longer than Tommy and who believe exactly the same thing. Of all the issues on Phuket that readers can write about, Tommy thinks the background and the health of the editor of Phuketwan is the most important. We can't stop laughing. Fortunately, Tommy and the other Phuket dinosaurs are disappearing - fast.

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Mal, Matt, Chris & Tommy - you guys are hilarious but really so sad. Get a life or convey your views to your local beerstool brigade. They will nod in agreement. PW is just so far ahead of every other news source on the island it is not funny. However you guys are funny.

Posted by helen on June 7, 2013 10:21

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Helen, you always seem to defend our "good" editor, I suspect you are very close to him. Tommy, I think you are being a bit harsh with your comment regarding Australian media, however the rest of what you say, is what a LOT of readers, rightfully or wrongfully, believe. Let's face it, if Ed did not make his "ridiculous" comments, then no one would reply, therefore any reply is a direct result od Ed, and then he complains. I guess that is why he is no longer in Oz, could not handle real editors, editing his work.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on June 7, 2013 11:36

Editor Comment:

Out of 8000 daily readers, we have Phuket IOC, Mal, Matt, Chris and Tommy wasting the editor's time and preventing him from getting out to report what's happening on Phuket - the issues they can't see and don't want to understand.

THE WORLD will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. (Or wasting the editor's time.) - Albert Einstein, addressing 0.001 percent of Phuketwan readers, Phuket IOC, Mal, Matt, Chris and Tommy.

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" Phuket IOC, Mal, Matt, Chris and Tommy wasting the editor's time and preventing him from getting out to report what's happening on Phuket "

I assume that "Chris" refers to me, though I've seen others use the same alias. The only person wasting your time and preventing you from doing your job is you and your compulsory need to always have the last say, regardless of if you are wrong or right.

Let people have their say and if you don't think they should, just don't publish it but to blame them for your own behavior and decisions is laughable. Nobody is forcing you to neither publish nor respond to comments.
Why you feel you need to tell the whole world how to eat their porridge ?

You are doing a great job with reporting and I agree with Helen PW is miles ahead of any other Phuket news media but comments are not your cup of tea. You are like the referee who decides he wants to play at the same time.

Posted by Chris on June 7, 2013 12:48

Editor Comment:

Let us get on with reporting and refereeing, then. Only comment when you are sure of your facts. Tommy and Phuket _IOC have proved with their wild and wide-of-the-mark comments about the editor that nothing they type can ever be taken seriously. I've blown the whistle. Red cards for them both.

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(moderated)

Posted by Tommy on June 7, 2013 15:07

Editor Comment:

Nothing you say is true, Tommy. That's your problem.

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ok why aren't my comments posted

Posted by mrbearzz on June 11, 2013 00:22

Editor Comment:

you two comments so far this month have been posted.

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My latest trip to Phuket in Feb is the last for sure.
I have made trips since 1996.

The next one tells everything:

''The low-quality Russians moved on from Turkey to Pattaya and Phuket,'' he said.

Must say, that Russians may ruin Phuket for good! Sad, so sad!

Posted by Mailin on June 11, 2013 02:03

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This is hilarious! A newspaper-style blog where the editor trashes its reader's comments. Unique.

Posted by Itsafunnyweb on June 12, 2013 18:19

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Great site, even better Editor. Good work fella!!

Posted by GazB on June 12, 2013 20:12

Editor Comment:

Positive comments are rare and never before from a first-time commenter.

What is it you want, GazB?

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yew party over for me in Phuket its a big rip off now' it was a great place to go to one time but I go to Cambodia now so much better for everthing

Posted by bkk on June 12, 2013 22:51

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Taxi Mafia have been killing Phuket for a long time I know of people who have stopped coming to Phuket now they are going to Cambodia, the Thai government must be stupid to let this go on, the best place in Thailand for tourists to visit and they are letting the tuk tuk rip them of, I think there is a lot of people having back handers and the government is turning a blind eye.greed for money is like a drug they can't stop one thing is for sure all good things comes to a end.

Posted by Robert on October 25, 2013 01:29


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