PHUKET: In a bid to increase security on the island, four of the island’s top tourism business associations are planning to establish a fund to help pay for extra police work and equipment.
Phuket Tourist Association President Maitree Narukhatpichai told the Gazette that the idea sprang from widespread concerns about the possible effects of an act of terror on the island’s all-important tourism industry.
“It’s just an idea at the moment, but I would like to see it realized. We can see the effect the Bali bombings had on the tourism industry there…. Hotel occupancy is still down because tourists are not confident to travel there,” he said.
Many Australian tourists who used to vacation in Bali now come to Phuket, he noted.
Representatives of the four groups – the PTA, the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Hotel Association and The Federation of Thai Industries, Phuket Chapter – will meet within the next few weeks to hash out exact details, but there is a general agreement that a fund should be established with a committee to oversee it, with much of the money used to pay for overtime work by police, he said.
Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Decha Budnampetch agreed with the idea and added that it could help to prevent crime in general.
Under the Royal Thai Police budget there is no money to cover overtime work, he said.
Although police officers already work hard, many might appreciate the opportunity to do four hours of paid overtime on their day off, Gen Decha said. Most officers work an eight-hour shift daily with one full day off weekly, he explained.
“If my officers are prepared to do the extra work, then we can discuss the matter of funding further with the PTA to see how they can help. We can rely only on the officers who are prepared to put in overtime, however, because we cannot increase the total number of officers in Phuket,” he explained.
There are currently a little over 1,000 police officers on active duty in Phuket province.
“During the visit of the Fourth Army Area Commander, he said we could request more manpower from the military if we need it, but I don’t think that would create a very good atmosphere for tourists,” Gen Decha said.
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