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Phuket guides call for action over Korean, Russian rivals

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: A Phuket provincial sub-committee has been formed to tackle the issue of illegal guides from Russia and Korea working in the local tourism industry.

Phuket Vice Governor Nivit Aroonrat on Tuesday chaired a provincial committee meeting aimed at tackling a variety of tourist rip-offs.

The gathering followed a visit to Phuket by the Interior Ministry in May when officials called on all relevant local authorities to study various ways tourists are cheated here, and to develop prevention plans.

Four sub-committees, comprising government and private-sector representatives, were given 15 days to list problems in each of four areas:

1. Public transport, such as illegal black plate taxis and scandalous tuk-tuk fares

2. Deceptive and threatening sales tactics, such as those used by some timeshare operators

3. Use of illegal guides and other unfair practices by tour operators

4. Environmental issues

One long-standing problem raised was the high number of Koreans and Russians working illegally as tour guides, a profession restricted by law to Thai nationals.

“I was told by many professional tour guides that there are many legal Thai guides in Phuket who have the ability to speak Korean or Russian, but they are rejected by foreign tour operators who claim their language skills don’t allow them to communicate effectively with their clients,” said Buayan Suwanmanee, director of the Phuket Office of Tourism and Sports.

Panompol Thammachart-Niyom, president of the Phuket Guide Association (PGA), offered another reason why the Korean and Russian tour operators do not want to hire Thai guides.

“Even if it is cheaper to hire legally-registered Thai guides, they hope to gain other benefits by hiring guides with the same nationality. The tour operators have bargaining power. They can rely on these illegal foreign guides to do their bidding since the foreign guides do not have work permits,” he explained.

“The tour operators can force the illegal foreign guides to take the tourists to visit and shop in places owned by Koreans and Russians, so money inflows are circulated among foreigners, not Thais,” he added.

Mr Panompol asked for legal action from related government authorities to help solve this problem.

“The government agencies can proceed with legal action, implicating ‘sitting guides’ and their employers,” he said.

“Sitting guide” is the term used locally to refer to accredited Thai guides who accompany tour groups in order to ensure compliance with the law, but who in fact have little or no direct contact with guests.

“I would like to ask the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Guide Registration Office to take serious action on these issues, which have gone unresolved for over a decade now. We have set up many committees in past years to tackle these problems, but they lacked the serious approach needed to get the job done,” he said.

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

Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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