Phuket

Envoy warns of EU advisory against tourists using Phuket tuk-tuks

PHUKET: The continued failure of local authorities to address problems of tuk-tuk drivers with foreign tourists could force European Union (EU) member states to issue a joint travel advisory warning against using tuk-tuks while in Phuket, the Austrian Ambassador to Thailand has warned.

Austrian Ambassador to Thailand Johannes Peterlik issued the warning to local officials during the third meeting between honorary consuls and Phuket officials at Phuket Provincial Hall on Wednesday.

Dr Johannes, who grew up in Thailand from 1976 to 1981 and has served as ambassador to the country for two years, said he and fellow EU diplomats in Bangkok had been monitoring the situation closely, but had seen little progress.

“I think it is important for all the stakeholders involved to realize the EU stands together as one today. More than half of the consuls here are from EU member states… This is not a coincidence. You can check the numbers of tourists that arrive from these countries annually,” he said.

In the future all of these states will share information and issue travel advice with the same wording, Amb Peterlik assured.

“We have been watching this situation very closely, for the last one-and-a-half years, to be precise… and we are concerned in Bangkok.

“We are happy to support the Thai police and authorities in implementing the law. We know how difficult it can be, but we have to rely on the rule of law as it is written. We have to rely on your leadership – the personalities of leaders, both provincial and national representatives.

“If we can rely on that you will see the support we are trying to give you. If we cannot rely on that… we will be forced to specifically highlight Phuket as a destination in Thailand where it is not advised to use a tuk-tuk, one of the symbols of Thailand, as a means of transportation,” he said.

Sitting next to Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha, he told the gathering he understood “how difficult” some EU tourists could be, but said that he and other diplomatic staff were duty-bound to protect their citizens traveling in the country.

— Stephen Fein

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