Gov orders probe into tour company

PHUKET CITY (Khom Chad Luek, Phuket Gazette) : Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura has ordered an investigation into a tour company for allegedly intimidating tourists into buying overpriced package tours.

The Tourist Police denied having received any complaints about the company in question, which is located close to their office on the bypass road .

The Governor ordered the investigation while chairing the monthly CEO Governor’s Meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Wednesday morning.

During a discussion of Phuket’s “transport mafia” woes, former Phuket Town Mayor Phummisak Hongsyok, who attended the meeting in his capacity as President of the Phuket Real Estate Club, mentioned that a high-ranking police official was involved in operating a “tour company” that picked up fares at the airport.

“I have received many reports from tourists about one ‘influential’ company that [somehow got the right to and does] pick up passengers at the airport. From there, they take them to their company offices, sometimes detaining them for one or two hours and forcing them to buy highly overpriced tour packages,” he said.

K. Phummisak said that the tour company would also call around to various hotels and arrange accommodation for the tourists, charging them in some cases a 1,000 baht fare or more upon arrival at their hotels. He added that the company also received a commission from the hotels involved.

“If we don’t take action against this soon, it will create big problems for Phuket tourism in the future,” he said.

Gov Udomsak readily agreed to take action against the tour company, which he already knew to be located next to the Tourist Police Station [on the bypass road].

“The Tourist Police can’t tell me that they don’t know anything about this … This issue has come up time and time again in these meetings…but I don’t see anybody taking the initiative to do anything about it. We talk about it all the time, then nobody does anything. I just don’t understand it,” he said.

It is understood that Provincial Police Deputy Commander Pol Col Kokiat Wongvorachart will head the investigation.

The Governor also suggested putting the owners of the company on the provincial list of “influential figures”, thus allowing those responsible to be dealt with at a higher level as part of the the Prime Minister’s “war on corruption”.

The Gazette contacted the Phuket Tourist Police office and was told by inspector Pol Maj Bundit Khaosutham that it was “100% untrue” that any Tourist Police officers were involved.

“As for the tour company next to our office, we don’t know each other. I don’t think that they would be brave enough to treat tourists like that right next to the Tourist Police office because it would be so easy for people to report them…

“In fact, we never get complaints from tourists about being forced to buy overpriced tours or being dropped off in the wrong locations [after refusing to buy them],” he said, adding that he had nevertheless assigned a team to investigate the allegations.

Phuket News

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