Connect with us


Phuket Conundrum: Can greed and thuggery win the battle for tourists?

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Conundrum: Can greed and thuggery win the battle for tourists? | Thaiger

PHUKET: Issues affecting tourist safety and welfare in Phuket and other popular destinations in Thailand have rightly dominated the news in this week’s issue of the Phuket Gazette.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of tourism to the Thai economy. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently announced that it plans for a record number of tourists, over 17 million, to visit the Kingdom in 2011. In recent years, about a third of these have included Phuket in their travel plans.

The TAT estimates that Phuket generated about 800 million baht in tourism revenue during this month’s Songkran holidays alone. That’s more than 100 million a day over the seven-day festival.

Former Phuket Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi once famously compared the tourism industry to glass, saying it could easily shatter. Yet Phuket’s tourism industry continued to grow even after the 2004 tsunami disaster. And despite the horrendous, mob-driven political turmoil last year, Phuket saw a record number of tourist arrivals: more than seven million.

But Phuket now faces a serious threat as one fiasco after another stains its international reputation. First are the illegal blockades of our Deep Sea Port by a band of self-entitled taxi drivers at Ao Makham, who demand – and are thus given – inappropriate and undeserved access to cruise ship passengers disembarking there.

The fact that the majority of their vehicles are unregistered “black plate” taxis seemed to make little difference in their “negotiations” with the authorities. Once again, mob rule trumped the rule of law in this land of protestocracy.

The losers, as usual, are the tourists and those who cater to them in honest and hospitable ways – attributes sadly lacking in much of Phuket’s transport sector.

Another discouraging issue in the island’s public transport picture is the growing concern over physical violence against foreign tourists and expatriate residents, including beatings and, most recently, allegations of rape by tuk-tuk drivers in Karon. These drivers seem to share a similar mindset with their peers in Panwa and Patong.

When visitors are not being beaten or extorted on fares by the transport syndicates, they are taken advantage of in other, more covert ways. Many of Phuket’s tourist attractions, including some significant restaurants, souvenir shops, tailors, massage parlours and purveyors of enigmatic jewelry, pay drivers handsome commissions, thus inflating further their ‘special’ prices for foreigners.

Then there are the jet-ski scams. The laudable effort to introduce “mandatory” insurance to prevent unscrupulous jet-ski operators from extorting in damage claims is now also at serious risk due to lack of compliance and non-enforcement of the rules. [See pages 4-5, current issue of the Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers click here to download the full newspaper.]

The Gazette notes with some optimism the prime minister’s recent involvement in the growing public appeal for relief from these predatory practices which continue to do so much damage to all stakeholders in Phuket – including, of course, over the longer run, the predators themselves.


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism4 hours ago

TAT announces 1,500 travellers arriving in Phuket July 1

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

5 million Moderna vaccines for Thailand, half of expectation

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Covid-19 round-up for expats 3: Are countries helping Thailand?

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Covid-19 round-up for expats 2: Will your country give a vaccine?

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Covid-19 round-up for expats 1: Should you travel to Thailand?

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Lockdown for BKK? Demonstrations back on, Pathum Thani shooter arrested

Thailand10 hours ago

Myth busted: Drinking alcohol does not kill Covid-19 – VIDEO

Phuket11 hours ago

Power outages coming to Kathu, again

Tourism11 hours ago

List of countries by Covid-19 risk level, classified by Thailand’s DDC

Thailand11 hours ago

Legalised marijuana up next? Courts get closer to legalising kratom

Phuket12 hours ago

Phuket police raids nab suspects for allegedly having guns, drugs, kratom

World13 hours ago

Antivirus legend John McAfee apparent suicide in Spanish prison

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Thursday Covid Update: 4,108 new cases; provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

Bar girls in Pattaya arrested for allegedly violating Covid restrictions while live streaming

Protests14 hours ago

Gathering for 89th anniversary of constitutional monarchy

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8