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“Compromise’ reached on illegal Korean guides

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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“Compromise’ reached on illegal Korean guides | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: South Korean Ambassador Han Tae-Kyu met Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit yesterday to discuss the thorny issue of Korean tour guides working illegally in the province, but with few tangible results other than an agreement “to compromise”on the issue.

Meanwhile, the terms of a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be signed by Korean tour operators in Phuket are under review and a planned testing of some 300 Thai tour guides for Korean-language ability in is on hold until further notice.

Gov Niran explained to Ambassador Han that working as a tour guide in Thailand is restricted to Thai nationals.

However, both men accepted that there are too few Thai tour guides with Korean-language abilities to meet demand, which has resulted in many Koreans working illegally as guides or “interpretors” to help fill the gap.

As a result, Thai guides often serve as “sitting guides” – in case of a check by police or other officials.

Formally allowing Koreans to work as “interpretors” with a Thai guide present was considered a possible solution to the problem, though it was not mentioned whether the MOU under review would include such a clause.

Ambassador Han said that most Korean tour operators in Phuket would like to save the expense of hiring Korean guides, but that the local guides simply lacked the language skills to keep Korean tourists informed and entertained.

“We want to have Thai guides, but they must be able to do the job properly,” he said.

The revised terms of the draft MOU would be made available to the Korean Consulate in Phuket to ensure fairness and Korean tour operators would not be asked to sign until that was the case, Gov Niran said.

The original MOU required all tour operators serving Korean tourists to employ Korean-speaking Thais as guides. Only a handful of Korean tour operators were prepared to sign the MOU presented at a meeting on July 14 that was attended by only eight of 57 such firms.

Another complaint from Thai guides about their Korean counterparts was that they lack sufficient knowledge of Thai culture and history to pass this knowledge on to tourists, Gov Niran told Amb Han.

Gov Niran also asked whether there was a problem of Thai tour guides working illegally in Korea, to which Ambassador Han replied that he didn’t think so, but that he would have to check to be sure.

Phuket Governor’s Office Chief Rapeepat Na Nakorn and his team have been assigned to revise the MOU, which will not be signed until it satisfies all parties, including the Korean diplomatic mission in Thailand, Gov Niran said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government and the Professional Guide Association (PGA) will move forward with a plan to test the Korean-language skills of about 300 of the 2,000 registered Thai guides in Phuket. However, the test has been postponed until further notice. It was originally scheduled for August 29 and 30.

After the meeting, Amb Han told the Gazette that the Korean Embassy was happy to help, but that any resolution must be worked out between the provincial government and the PGA.

“The most important point is tourist satisfaction, so it is up to the guide association to provide the quality of service expected by Korean tourists,” he said.

During the meeting Amb Han said that Thailand is a primary destination for Koreans, with about 1.1 million Koreans visiting the country annually.

More than 200,000 Koreans visited Phuket last year – more than any other Thai destination after Bangkok. There are currently 16 direct flights from Korea to Phuket weekly, with an average daily passenger load of about 600, Amb Han said.

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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 told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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