PHUKET: The Jet Sports Boating Association of Thailand (TJSBA) has hit back at Phuket for declining to host the Thai Airways International-Jet Sports King’s Cup Thailand Open 2000 jet-ski races. The criticism came soon after the Governor of Phuket, Charnchai Soontharamut, and about 30 others from different associations on the island turned down the TJSBA’s proposal on the grounds that jet-skis are potentially harmful to Phuket’s tourism. The TJSBA is planning a conference in Bangkok specifically to try to explain to the public how it feels Phuket has misunderstood its intentions. The main complaint is that the province has erroneously connected the international race circuit with the local rental business. The TJSBA outlined its main reasons why the jet-ski competition should be supported by Phuket. These are: – The race is a King’s Cup competition – Malaysia is trying to organize a similar international event in Langkawi. Holding a competition in Phuket will help to promote and protect the island’s tourism. – Jet-skiing is in itself not a dangerous sport, and no one should be misled into thinking that anyone working with jet-skis is bad. Accidents and crimes will always happen, the TJSBA argues. – The statistics show that in 1998 there were 204 jet-skis in Phuket, creating 355 jobs and generating annual income of more than 132 million baht. Responding to the TJSBA, Anupharp Thirarath, the director of the local office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told the Gazette, “We have confirmed with each other that there will be no jet-ski competition in Phuket, no matter what. We still have problems with jet-skis, and we will continue to try to solve them. “They can have their conference or whatever, but we will still say no. Local people and most of the tourists here don’t want jet-skis. “I don’t understand why they have to make noise. We do not welcome them, as you can see and they can see. So why don’t they find someplace else, like Pattaya, that will support the competition?”
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