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Aftonbladet reports on Patong, ''A Paradise - for Fraudsters''

Game Over on Phuket for Fraudsters in 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
News Analysis

PHUKET: Phuket is being called a place ''where corruption, greed and short-term thinking are destroying what once attracted tourists.''

Quote ''There are no limits when it comes to finding new ways to make money from tourists. Many testify to the mafia-like cartels.''

Quote ''Phuket in Thailand has become a nightmare for many Swedish holidaymakers.''

Quote ''Headline: A Paradise - for Fraudsters''

A series of articles that blows the lid off Phuket's problems is being carried in Sweden's biggest-selling daily newspaper, Aftonbladet.

It follows the publication earlier this week in Australia of a stinging indictment of Phuket's lack of international standards in the country's most influential newspapers - and reprinted in Phuketwan - highlighting Phuket tourism's chronic problems.

Australia and Sweden are two of Phuket's largest tourism markets. This week's articles are likely to raise questions at the highest level in Bangkok and add to intense pressure for speedy change on Phuket.

The author and co-author of many of the Aftonbladet articles, Bangkok-based journalist Jan Kallman, said today: ''It may not be good for tourism but it's good for tourists. As consumers, people need to know what to expect.''

Phuketwan, consulted for the series, has chronicled the scams of jet-ski operators, the extortionate and thuggish behavior of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, corruption in law-enforcement agencies and the ''see no evil'' approach of some local officials.

This week's articles will strike like missiles to the tourist heartlands that keep Phuket's tourism industry functioning. The explosion is likely to come later, as government officials in Bangkok are informed by Thailand's ambassadors in Sweden and Australia of the damage.

Phuket's honorary consuls in regular meetings with local authorities have done their job and, after two years of regular constructive criticism, passed the process of continuing pressure over to their embassies in Bangkok.

Local business leaders on Phuket have assisted the Phuket Governor's committees to report to the Interior Ministry on the issues that the island can't handle.

Phuket may be basking in a balmy breeze this high season, but in Bangkok, Phuket's future will be one of the political hot issues next week.

Phuketwan believes 2012 will be a vital year for Phuket and its tourism industry. Believe it or not, there are still people who can't see the problems, who urge us to ''write about the good things'' . . .

Phuket remains a great tourist destination and, with its risks and rip-offs removed, should remain a great destination for generations to come. But those risks and rip-offs have to go.

If Thailand's government and Phuket enforcers can get it right in 2012, the failures and flaws of the past can be overcome. Get it wrong and . . . well, there's no second chance.

For Phuket, 2012 will be its most important year in decades.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


ed... what are the newspapers this is being printed in? would like to read the full article.

Posted by john s on December 28, 2011 10:56

Editor Comment:

Aftonbladet, Sweden's largest-selling newspaper, in the Swedish language. The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers and online outlets are in the Fairfax group in Australia.


Great article and I agree with 100%. 2012 is a very important year for Phuket. I know many expat business owners who are thinking about leaving Phuket if things don't get better in the near future. I also have other friends who use to come to Phuket for holiday and are now going to other locations.

Posted by Billy on December 28, 2011 11:45


Thank you for this article

Posted by PhuketExpat on December 28, 2011 12:43


We never saw any action or any master plan to eradicate corruption in Phuket and nearby provinces from Governor(s) and/or senior civil servants.

So many local native Thais and foreigners alike get boring to see inaction from those in charge of reinforcing Thai laws.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on December 28, 2011 13:05


Pissing in the wind....Thai authorities, yes - the entire Thai mindset, the culture as a whole - just doesn't care about anything other than money. I suspect all this latest lip service is about protecting existing expat business and vested lifestyles. I recommend catering to other Asian's interests as a future business plan. I predict gambling in the future and that will make the present day " mafias" look like kittens. Plan accordingly.

Posted by Media Watcher on December 28, 2011 13:37


Now we have media watcher future teller, maybe Eliott Ness and the Untouchables will come to the rescue.
Phuketwan team great information and thank you for continuing to raise the serious issues which impact us in Phuket. Happy New Year

Posted by wm on December 28, 2011 14:02


someone should send a copy of the newpaper translated to the governor of phuket :)

Posted by Jonas on December 28, 2011 14:22


Fully agree with this article.

Phuket authorities have had their chance to fix the problems and have shown us in no uncertain terms that nothing's going to change.

It's only through pressure from foreign media reports and a few brave local news outlets that sufficient pressure will be applied to BKK to react and respond.

Posted by Steve C. on December 28, 2011 14:29


Yesterday evening I saw the tuk tuk driver stop a courtesy car in front of Serenity Resort, on the road from Rawai to Chalong, and forced the customer out, shouting to the lady driver and kicking the car.

Posted by nick on December 28, 2011 14:41


2012 will be an unfortunate year, indeed. It will be the year when Phuket officially becomes unbearable for this ex-pat at least and I will seek a better, cheaper and safer place to live.

Posted by George on December 28, 2011 16:39


One can only hope the powers that be in BK do take this advice on board before it is to late . I have stopped telling friends and family to visit any more as the island has turned into - how can I put it - a real cheap nasty whore of a place with an abundance of crooks, conmen, thugs and drug dealers who are allowed to ply their trade without fear of being stopped. It is truly criminal they way they have allowed this place to slide purely through ineptitude arrogance and all out greed.

Posted by Scunner on December 29, 2011 03:18


Australians and Swedish Tourists don't come anymore, so what? There place will be or is already taken by Russians, Chinese and Arabs. The strategy of phuket's officials is not to clear the problems rather to look for new markets.

Posted by Apostel on December 29, 2011 07:26


Its about time somthing was done with all this corruption in Patong and Phuket I have been going back to Phuket for over 8 year and the m**** have taken over just about every thing in that time .I first went to Phuket over 30year ago its not the same place now I know thing change but it's not for the better.

Posted by john Bradley on December 31, 2011 06:18


its not game over.. it will still be here in 2013 you will see... book mark this if you like!

Posted by poppops on December 31, 2011 15:45


Looking for replacement/new markets if Scandinavians and Australians go elsewhere? Well that may be a bad strategy in the short term (10-15years). Current tourists from Russia and China do not spend nearly as much money as the aforementioned tourists. All tourist dependent businesses will suffer. Better make sure to not lose good customers, and make sure it is safe for new tourists as well. The first does not exclude the other.

Posted by Cooper on January 2, 2012 05:58


This is good news. This island, indeed the whole country needs a change of attitude. However the thais are the most inactive of governments, and while the island is still a treasure trove to those at the top, nothing will be done. The russians and chinese will still be coming - until they too wise up. Being a pretty canny lot it shouldn't take too long. i imagine in about 5 years the thais will be wondering what's happened to their reputation.

Posted by jimbo34 on January 2, 2012 20:53


Well, for the past 20 years, Phuket has never ceased to get worse every single year, so why should you think it will get better in 2012? By 2020, this island will be uninhabitable by anyone except thugs.

Posted by Andy on January 2, 2012 21:29

Editor Comment:

2012 has to be a watershed because local leaders and Bangkok leaders now agree things have to change. That's never been as obvious. And you're right: without action, Phuket has not much of a future.


The history repeats, just ask Spain and Greece if they miss the swedish tourists from the 80's and 90's. Thailand has great chance to keep the tourism industry, but it takes a lot from the authorities! Start to clean up now!

Posted by Jonas on January 5, 2012 03:52

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