Farang mafia: Phuket businesses welcomes Thais, sometimes

Photo via Facebook/ เฉลิมพงศ์ แสงดี - Chalermpong Saengdee

Businesses in Phuket have denied favouring foreign tourists over Thai residents and visitors. Business operators in the popular seaside resort of Thailand, particularly entertainment venues and vehicle rental shops, expressed pleasure in welcoming Thai tourists but acknowledged that they might encounter being turned away from certain businesses or during specific times.

The controversy unfolded as Thai and foreign netizens shared on social media that some businesses in Phuket were unwelcoming to Thai visitors and only focused on foreigners.

A Reddit user, BlacksmithSolid2149, shared at the beginning of this month that a motorcycle rental shop in Phuket rejected his Thai wife because they did not allow Thai people to rent its vehicles. The shop employee cited concerns about theft, complaints, and inability to afford deposits among the reasons.

Thai travel blogger and YouTuber, Komkrit “Sunny” Machai, who is known for his YouTube channel Backpaeger แบกเป้เกอร์, also shared on social media that he faced rejection from multiple motorcycle rental shops in the Patong neighbourhood because he was Thai.

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Many Thai netizens supported these claims, stating that numerous vehicle rental shops were owned by Russians who did not welcome local Thai customers. Some claimed this discrimination extended beyond rental shops, complaining that the province did not welcome Thai tourists.

Sunny added an ironic statement in the comment section.

“Wait, I forgot that Phuket is now rented by Russians.”

Another Thai food and travel blogger, Ped Pa Pai, shared her experience of being denied entry to entertainment venues near Patong Beach, alleging they only welcomed foreigners. Similar experiences were shared by her followers in the comment section.

Domestic tourists

Some of the followers pointed out that the whole province begged for domestic tourists during the pandemic and urged locals to support them during the hard economic times but everything immediately changed after the return of foreign tourists.

The President of Patong Beach Entertainment Association, Weerawit Kruesombat, launched a press conference to clarify the matter at Patong Bay Hotel yesterday, March 11. Weerawit stated that the information shared by Thai travel bloggers negatively impacted businesses, especially in the Patong area.

Weerawut clarified that some entertainment venues excluded Thai customers due to special events for foreign tourists, advanced booking requirements, concerns about fake ID cards, or other reasons. He emphasised that out of more than 300 bars and nightclubs in the area, many were happy to welcome Thai visitors, with exceptions in certain places or at specific times.

Weerawit addressed the issue concerning vehicle rental shops in the province, clarifying that while there are numerous shops in the area, only a few decline service to Thai customers due to past incidents of car theft. He highlighted that over 100 motorcycles had been stolen in the past year.

Furthermore, Weerawit urged Thai social media influencers to consider the repercussions of Thai tourism before sharing negative information with the public. He pointed out that Phuket and Patong had only recently begun to recover from the pandemic.

Weerawit also highlighted the considerable hardships endured by locals, particularly in Patong, during the pandemic, noting a lack of support or advertising assistance. He lamented that instead of aiding in Patong’s recovery, some individuals exacerbated the situation.

Concluding the press conference, Weerawit reiterated that businesses in the Patong area warmly welcome all tourists, both Thai and foreign.

Phuket province is now under scrutiny by both the Thai authorities following the Swiss man scandal. Several foreigners living and working illegally in the province were arrested recently, and illegal businesses owned by foreigners were shut down.

Move Forward Party MP Chalermpong Saengdee, and police officers, last night investigated entertainment venues on the Bangla Road in search of illegal businesses and foreigners.

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at petch@thethaiger.com.

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