PHUKET: Phuket Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi has hastened to reassure travelers that Phuket is safe, following advisories from a number of Western governments – most recently Denmark and Sweden – that their nationals should be cautious about traveling to Thailand, and especially to tourist areas such as Patong. Gov Pongpayome thanked the two countries for their concern but stressed, “We are certain that Thailand is not a prime target for terrorists, though this does not mean that we are treating the situation lightly. “We have had two major meetings with police and people from local businesses, the entertainment industry and large restaurants, to brief them on improving protection for their customers and on how to look out for anything suspicious. “We have also urged hotels to be more stringent about their security, by hiring extra guards, for example, or by requiring people to leave some form of ID with hotel staff when they park in a hotel car park.” He added that inspections by uniformed police had been stepped up, as had the presence of plain-clothes officers, both from the police and from other government departments, especially in tourist areas after dark. “District officials are checking all businesses and following up on their security measures. I have ordered the three district chiefs to survey the tourist areas every night.” In terms of intelligence gathering, he said that specialist police units in the capital had been asked to increase their flow of relevant national and international information while, on the ground, community leaders were organizing their people to keep an eye out and to provide local intelligence. “We are doing everything we can,” Gov Pongpayome added. Pol Col Apirak Hongthong, Superintendant of Phuket Immigration Police, was forthright, responding sharply to the advisories, which he described as “nonsense”. He told the Gazette, “For sure there will be no bombings here. This is the world’s safest island.”
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