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Bogus Phuket tour guides, gem rip-offs in firing line

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Bogus Phuket tour guides, gem rip-offs in firing line | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket jewelry shops that overcharge tourists and tour companies that hire illegal guides are to be targeted by the latest campaign by provincial authorities to preserve a “billion baht” business, officials were told this week.

“I want tour companies to follow the law. Their main tour guides must be Thai. If they do not, they will be in trouble,” Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada told a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Tuesday.

“We have been trying to solve the problem with illegal guides for 15 years. I need to take stern action.

“We have received so many complaints about illegal tour guides of different nationalities that we have to try do something to manage them. Different agencies must coordinate in inspecting each operator we receive a complaint about,” he said.

He also cautioned that the authorities could not ease off on operators who keep breaking the law.

“As we have learned from the past, we cannot stop taking action as the problems always return and we find ourselves scrambling to find a way to solve the problems again. So we cannot stop taking action against this problem, and we must continue to inspect tour operators, follow up and evaluate whether our actions have been effective.” he said.

V/Gov Chamroen asked the Phuket Professional Guide Association to draw up a plan of action for tackling the ongoing problem of illegal tour guides working in Phuket.

“Although at this stage we cannot set a deadline for determining whether or not the plan is successful, we will continually carry out inspections of operators that we have received complaints about,” he said.

Turning his attention to rip-off jewelry merchants, V/Gov Chamroen called on Phuket Commerce Office chief Prakong Rukwong to draw up an action plan of corrective measures to take against jewelry shops that his office had received complaints about.

He also said he would ask officers from the Office of the Consumer Protection Board in Bangkok to come to Phuket to assist with inspecting dubious merchants.

Present at the meeting were representatives of five big jewelry shops in Phuket, including Wang Talang Jewelry and Gift Shop. All five representatives said they had not received any complaints about their stores.

However, V/Gov Chamroen pointed out that the smaller jewelry shops were more likely the culprits in ripping off tourists by charging inflated prices for lackluster jewelry.

“Recognized jewelry stores are not likely to have this problem because if they receive a complaint, it could ruin their reputation and cost their industry billions of baht,” he said.

Chief Prakong agreed.

“Most big shops don’t receive any complaints from tourists as their jewelry always comes with certificates confirming details of the item of jewelry and a statement of verified value.

“Small shops and stalls, however, usually do not offer such certificates for the jewelry they sell,” he said.

Chief Prakong said he would focus on having all jewelry merchants provide customers with certificates for the jewelry they buy, as required by law.

However, V/Gov Chamroen suggested using corporate branding as leverage in getting small jewelry merchants to comply.

“Phuket Commerce officers have to inspect small merchants to make sure they understand what is required of them by law, and they should support small operators in creating a brand for their stores.

“If small merchants create a successful brand, they will think more carefully about their reputation if they make any problems,” V/Gov Chamroen said.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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