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Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban: he heads a probe into tourism rip-offs

Thailand Probes Tourist Rip-Offs: Phuket Joins In

Monday, April 18, 2011
DEPUTY PM Suthep Thaugsuban headed a meeting of representatives from Phuket and Thailand's other key tourism destinations today and vowed to deal with rip-offs and corruption within the industry.

Special committee investigators will check on the scope of the rip-offs and report back over a period of six weeks, with effective action likely to be announced about the end of May, Phuket Vice Governor Niwit Aroonrat told Phuketwan.

He was speaking after a day of talks in Bangkok today with Deputy PM Suthep and Governors or Vice Governors representing Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Songkhla, Chonburi and Surat Thani.

''It's an important step,'' the Phuket vice governor said. ''It shows that the national government is genuinely concerned and determined to do something.''

Vice Governor Niwit said he was able to tell the gathering at Government House about the rip-offs on Phuket, about the high fares of tuk-tuks, jet-ski scams and corruption.

He also says he mentioned the latest blockade by local taxi drivers involving a cruise liner, one of several blockades that have targetted luxury passengers or US warship personnel visiting Phuket for liberty shore leave.

''Phuket seems more open about these issues than some of the other tourism destinations,'' he said. ''The regular meetings with honorary consuls on Phuket have helped to put these issues on the table.''

The vice governor said he told today's ''scam summit'' about a rip-off involving souvenir jewellery sales on Phuket, where items that were actually made for 100 baht were sold to tourists at 2000 baht to cover the cost of corrupt commissions to taxi and tuk-tuk drivers and hotels.

The issue of ineffective law enforcement was also raised, he said, noting corruption on Phuket where passports were sometimes taken and held illegally as collateral by motorcycle and vehicle renters, where entertainment venue standards and illegal opening hours had been questioned, and where noise pollution was a continuing problem.

Many of Bangkok's tourism issues, he says today's meeting was told, centred on Suvarnabhumi international airport. Delays in passing through Immigration were a source of concern as well as rip-offs, he said.

Complaints by ambassadors from Europe, China and Japan are thought to have helped to generate today's tourism summit.

The sixth meeting of the honorary consuls on Phuket with Phuket's administrative leaders and police is scheduled for May 23.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Some very important issues raised here. I am glad to see someone has noticed and that has been taken up a level. I will look for the report at the end of May, I will not be holding my breath.

Posted by Phuket Kop on April 18, 2011 21:26

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Wow! There must be two April 1st's this year. :)

And what will the outcome be?:

"We found everything in order. All damaged jet-skis were in fact damaged, police never target tourists for extortion and tuk-tuks are charging a fair price. Somchai, Where's my limo driver?.

Posted by Mike Boydm on April 18, 2011 21:42

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Wow, big changes in attitudes coming our way in Phuket?

Hahaha.

Posted by Theodor on April 18, 2011 22:19

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i won't be holding my breath as well.

Posted by john s on April 18, 2011 22:31

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It was a time..... This is the last hope for Phuket..

Posted by Dave on April 19, 2011 00:17

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You say "rip-offs and corruption within the industry." But since you have to "buy" your way into government in Thailand and "buy" promotions to go up the ranks, isn't this some sort of oxymoron?

Posted by Tbs on April 19, 2011 01:37

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Time for another CRACKDOWN !

Posted by Mr X on April 19, 2011 02:11

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It would seem that high-level notice is being taken of local and visitor discontent, propelled by the regular and hard-hitting attention given to it by Phuket Wan. Having said that, like 'Phuket Kop', I remain cynical. Keep up the pressure please!

Posted by Anonymous on April 19, 2011 03:38

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Now if only the local Thai press would cover this matter so Thais in Bangkok and Phuket would know what is going on. Many Thais I speak to have no idea of blockades and rip offs.

Posted by helen on April 19, 2011 04:18

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Lets hope this is taken seriously..it has got to start at the top, and in my opinion, the major scams come from PATONG..The rest of the islands main issues are..PUBLIC TRANSPORT, TAXIS, TUK TUKS ETC..also hidden corruption costs..we can only hope this helps..Mike Boyd is right. BUT everyone still has to keep trying..

Posted by johndev on April 19, 2011 07:14

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''It's an important step,'' the Phuket vice governor said. ''It shows that the national government is genuinely concerned and determined to do something.''

So what are saying? Why does BKK need to get involved? The obvious answer would be that the local authorities are inept to do anything about the widely acknowledged problems.

So what now? More lip service from other officials? Why undertake an investigation into what is already known? These problems are so easy to fix - simply enforce the laws!!

Posted by Graham on April 19, 2011 11:16

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thank you mr. Suthep, i feel much better already

Posted by armpit on April 19, 2011 11:19

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start at the top and work down, the problem goes much further than just what can be seen at the point of rip offs

Posted by mikey on April 19, 2011 21:49

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What the article failed to mention (shockingly) is that regarding the cruise ship blockade by the thuggish m**** taxi drivers, the Minister said that the tour companies offering larger buses and AC where "unfair". he was on the side of the thugs, so don't celebrate too much!

Posted by christian on April 20, 2011 09:01

Editor Comment:

That comment was reported elsewhere, Christian, long after our interview with the vice governor. We don't give any credence to second-hand reports. Too many of them turn out to be wrong. If you told the Deputy PM to his face that he was ''on the side of the thugs,'' his reaction would be interesting, I'm sure.

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Ed

Yes, very interesting for sure. And, sadly I would probably be sued and and deported for saying it. So much for free speech. But I guess you think thats ok? The kind of Thailand you enjoy?

Posted by christian on April 20, 2011 20:58

Editor Comment:

Thailand is essentially like most other places. Free speech is fine, but libel and slander are not. Repeating unproven allegations is the recourse of cowards. I'm surprised the difference isn't understood in Sweden.

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i'm here for 9 years and i can say that there is no hope to change anything. those guys are backed by the police ...at my job also we have to suffer very bad taxi drivers ..they smile to the tourist and simply hate the farang who work there ..they shouted at me and even at my manager but we can't do nothing about it ...just accept it ..that's the only way.

Posted by alan on April 21, 2011 18:57

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Jet ski's in Pattaya are getting a lot of attention also
www.pattayamail.com/localnews/justice-ministry-chonburi-governor-join-fray-over-pattaya-jet-skis-2849
Time catching up on the scammers.

Posted by malc on April 22, 2011 22:20


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